Introduction of Finance Support

The Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Order 2015 will change the current payments from the Social Fund. Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants that are currently available under Social Fund will end in November 2016.

This information is provided for planning purposes only.

What is Finance Support?

Finance Support is a new service for Northern Ireland that has been created to support people in times of financial need.

Finance Support can provide help through:

  • discretionary support
  • short term benefit advances
  • maternity grants
  • funeral payments
  • budgeting loans
  • cold weather payments

Support in a crisis

From November 2016, if you have a financial crisis you will be able to apply for Discretionary Support or a Short Term Benefit Advance via a dedicated freephone service. This freephone number will be available from November. 

You will be asked some questions to help decide which support is most suited to you, and then taken through your claim application. You will be given a decision immediately on whether you are eligible.

Discretionary Support

Discretionary Support will be a new service unique to Northern Ireland. It is designed to be a fast and responsive means of receiving short-term financial support.

To get Discretionary Support, you must have a crisis which places you or your immediate family’s health, safety or wellbeing at significant risk. Help can only be provided within Northern Ireland, so you cannot receive Discretionary Support for a crisis which occurs anywhere else.

If you are eligible, you could be offered a Discretionary Support loan or grant. The Finance Support Advisor taking your application will be able to decide which is best for you and your situation. It’s important you know that if you are eligible for a loan, you must be able to pay it back.

Short Term Benefit Advance

Short Term Benefit Advance is a new service in Northern Ireland if you are receiving benefits. It is an advance on your benefit payment if you have an urgent financial need that could have a serious impact on you or your family’s health, safety or wellbeing.

You can ask for an advance of benefit when you are making a claim or reporting a change in circumstances that increases the rate of benefit you are already receiving. You must be able to afford to repay the advance within 12 weeks.

An advance of benefit can be given to you for any of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • State Pension
  • Carer’s Allowance

Support when you need it

There are some elements of the current Social Fund which will be included within the new Finance Support service when it is introduced in November 2016. 

These include:


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