Why is this important?
Changes to the Social Fund in England
If you get certain benefits and have to meet the costs of unexpected or one-off expenses, a payment, loan or grant from the Social Fund may help you pay for what you need. However, from April 2013, parts of the Social Fund will be abolished, and some will become part of Universal Credit.
This page explains what's changing and what other help will be available for you when the Social Fund stops.
What is the Social Fund?
Payments from the Social Fund are currently made to help you out financially if you get certain benefits and are struggling to meet the costs of dealing with a major or unexpected event.
Examples of payments from the social fund include:
- funeral payments, to meet the costs of funeral expenses
- winter fuel payments, paid to all people over the state pension age for a woman
- cold weather payments, paid when the temperature drops below a certain level for seven consecutive days
- SureStart maternity grants to help with the costs of a new baby
- community care grants to help you set up home in the community if you're leaving care, prison or have been homeless. You can also apply for travel expenses to visit relatives in need in other parts of the country
- budgeting loans to help you buy essential equipment, such as furniture or clothing, or for essential travel expenses
- crisis loans to help with urgent expenses because of an emergency or a disaster.
Community care grants and crisis loans
From April 2013, community care grants and crisis loans will no longer exist. The Government will give money which used to pay for these schemes to local authorities. Local authorities may choose to run a replacement scheme, but they won't have to and they won't have to give out cash loans. They may choose to put the money towards supporting existing local schemes, such as foodbanks, schemes which provide subsidized furniture and white goods, credit unions and homelessness prevention schemes.
Budgeting loans, funeral payments and maternity grants
Funeral payments and the SureStart Maternity Grants will continue to be paid as usual.
Budgeting loans will continue to be available until Universal Credit is rolled out.
Winter fuel payments
Winter fuel payments which you can get if you're over a certain age will stay the same. However, the way you're paid may change.
Cold weather payments
Cold weather payments will continue to be paid.
If you need a loan before you get your benefit
From April 2013, if you need a crisis loan to cover you until you get your first benefit payment, you can ask for a Short Term Advance from the Department for Work and Pensions. This will eventually become part of Universal Credit payments when they're introduced.