This guide gives information about Budgeting Loans, Sure Start Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Cold Weather and Winter Fuel Payments. The guide applies equally to people of working age and to people over State Pension age
The Social Fund
A Budgeting Loan is an interest-free loan intended to help spread the cost of certain one-off expenses over a longer period. A Budgeting Loan can help towards the cost of various items for example, things needed for or to improve the home, clothing and footwear, travelling expenses and certain debts.
They are available to people getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, or payment on account of one of them for at least 26 weeks.
Budgeting Loans have to be repaid.
Sure Start Maternity Grants are to help pay for things for a new baby. You may be eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant if you or your partner are getting Universal Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award or Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element. A Sure Start Maternity Grant is a lump sum payment which does not have to be repaid.
Funeral Payments are to help with the necessary costs of a respectful funeral which you or your partner are responsible for arranging. You may be eligible for a Funeral Payment if you are getting Universal Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award, Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element, Housing Benefit. The payment covers various aspects of the funeral, but is recoverable from the deceased person’s estate if they have left one.
Cold Weather Payments are made to some people getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), and to all people getting Pension Credit to help towards extra heating costs when there is a spell of very cold weather in the area where they live.
Winter Fuel Payments are made to people aged 60 or over to help towards their winter heating costs.
How decisions are made
Applications for Budgeting Loans are decided by a decision-maker at Jobcentre Plus. He or she is bound by directions and takes account of guidance from the Secretary of State to help to decide if you are eligible for the assistance you have requested, and how much you should get. For Budgeting Loans, decisions are mainly based on the common treatment of customers' circumstances as directed by the Secretary of State. All loan decisions have to be considered against an annual budget. You have the right to ask for a review if you are unhappy with the decision.
Sure Start Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments are made according to the law as set out in regulations. Decisions on these payments and grants are also made by decision-makers in Jobcentre Plus. If you meet the conditions set out in law, you will receive a payment or grant. If you are not happy with the decision, you, or someone else who has the authority to act on your behalf, can
- ask for an explanation
- ask for a written statement of reasons for the decision
- ask us to look again at the decision
- appeal against the decision to an independent tribunal (but this must be in writing)
You can do any of the actions listed above, or you can do all of them.
The Social Fund Budget
Every year in April Jobcentre Plus offices are given a budget to pay for Budgeting Loans. The money in this budget has to last all year and we have to consider this when making decisions on these applications.
For Budgeting Loans, all eligible applicants have one of three Budgeting Loan maximum amounts available to them depending on their personal circumstances. Everyone in the same circumstances has the same maximum amount available. How much these Budgeting Loan maximum amounts are depends on the overall state of the loans budget, so sometimes they will change. Any change applies equally to all eligible applicants. You can ask Jobcentre Plus what the Budgeting Loan maximum amounts are at any given time.
Note that the final size of the Budgeting Loan you get may be less than the Budgeting Loan maximum amount, for example, where you already have a Budgeting Loan to repay.
Decisions are made as soon as possible after you make your application. If your application is refused or you are unhappy about the decision, you can ask for a review of the decision.
Sure Start Maternity Grants, Funeral Payments, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments are not limited by Social Fund Budgets in Jobcentre Plus, they are paid if you satisfy the regulations as laid down by law.