Introduction of Finance Support

The Northern Ireland (Welfare Reform) Order 2015 has changed payments from the Social Fund. Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants that were previously available under Social Fund ended on 27 November 2016.

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 28 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.

You will be asked some questions to help decide which support is most suited to you, and then taken through your claim application.

You should 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.

To apply, contact the Finance Support telephony centre:

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

To apply, contact the Finance Support telephony centre:

Discretionary Support - how to request a review

If you're unhappy with a Discretionary Support decision, you have the right to ask for a review within 28 days of your initial decision. To do this, you should contact the same Finance Support telephony centre on:

If you're still unhappy with the outcome, you can ask for a further review by the Discretionary Support Commissioner who is independent from the Department for Communities (DfC).

This should be requested in writing within 28 days of the last decision in respect of your application received from DfC.

For more information visit The Office of the Discretionary Support Commissioner website.



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