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Changes to the Social Fund

The Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Act 2015 will change the current payments from the Social Fund.

This information is provided for planning purposes only.

What is the Social Fund?

These are the types of payments you can currently get from the Social Fund

What are the changes?

Help until a benefit claim has been paid will change to a Short Term Advance of benefit, instead of what is now called a Crisis Loan.

If at this time you are claiming Universal Credit, the Short Term Advance will be part of this payment.

Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for household items and living costs will be replaced by a new type of help called Discretionary Support. If you apply for Discretionary Support you will be offered either aloan, which must be paid back or a grant which does not have to be paid back. What you are offered will depend on your circumstances.

Cold Weather Payments will not change, but if you were to get Universal Credit, the money will come as part of your Universal Credit payment. Otherwise they will be paid as they are now.

Budgeting Loans will stay the same but the name would change to Budgeting Advance if you were to get Universal Credit.

Winter Fuel Payments will stay the same but the way you get them may change. How this will happen has not been decided yet.

What will not change?

Sure Start Maternity Grants and Funeral Payments will continue to be available under the Social Fund.

Find out more about Universal Credit on the Introduction to Universal Credit page.

Quick guide to proposed Social Fund changes

  Proposed Discretionary Support Part of proposed Universal Credit benefit system) Notes
Community Care Grants Replaced by grants paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan for living costs Replaced by loans or grants paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan for household items Replaced by loans or grants paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan – while waiting for your first benefit payment Will be named Short Term Advance under the welfare changes in Northern Ireland as part of Universal Credit
Budgeting Loans Will be named Budgeting Advance if you get Universal Credit
Cold Weather Payment
Sure Start Maternity Grant Will still be available under Social Fund
Funeral Payment Will still be available under Social Fund
Winter Fuel Payment How Winter Fuel Payments are made may change, but the details are not known at this time

What help will be available?

Support and advice will be given to help you through these changes if they affect you.