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Changes to the Social Fund

If the new Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland becomes law the current payments from the Social Fund will change from Spring 2014. Some payments will be part of a new type of help called Discretionary Support, while some will become part of the new Universal Credit benefit system being introduced from Summer 2014.

What is the Social Fund?

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

  • Community Care Grants
  • Crisis Loans such as
    • Crisis Loan for living costs
    • Crisis Loan for household things
    • Crisis Loan payments when you have claimed a benefit and you are waiting for your first payment
  • Budgeting Loans
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant
  • Funeral Payment
  • Cold Weather Payment
  • Winter Fuel Payment

What will change?

Changes likely to be introduced shortly after the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland becomes law

If you need help until your benefit claim has been paid, you can ask for what is called a Short Term Advance of benefit, instead of what is now called a Crisis Loan.

Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for household things and living costs will be replaced by a new type of help called Discretionary.Support, offering loans which must be paid back and grants which do not have to be paid back.

Changes from Summer 2014

Cold Weather Payments will not change, but from Summer 2014, if you get Universal Credit, the money will come as part of your Universal Credit payment. Otherwise they will be paid as they are now.

If you need help until your benefit claim has been paid you can ask for a Short Term Advance of benefit. From Summer 2014, if you get Universal Credit, the Short Term Advance will be part of this payment.

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

Winter Fuel Payments will stay the same but the way you get them may change, but 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 Social Fund.

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

Quick guide to Social Fund changes

  Discretionary Support available shortly after the Welfare Reform Bill (NI) becomes law Part of new Universal Credit benefit system)from Summer 2014 Notes
Community Care Grants Replaced by grants paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan for living costs Replaced by loans paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan for household things Replaced by loans paid through Discretionary Support
Crisis Loan – while waiting for your first benefit payment Will be called Short Term Advance shortly after the Welfare Reform Bill (NI) becomes law and will be part of Universal Credit after Summer 2014
Budgeting Loans Will be called Budgeting Advance if you get Universal Credit after Summer 2014
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

What help will be available?

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