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The current Social Fund provides:
  1. Budgeting Loans
  2. Sure Start Maternity Grants
  3. Funeral Payments
  4. Cold Weather Payments
  5. Winter Fuel Payments (pensioners only)

This applies to England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland the ‘Finance Support’ service has replaced the entire Social Fund. Eventually all of the above (except the budgeting loans) will be delivered by the Scottish Government in Scotland. When this occurs this page will be changed to reflect that.


Budgeting Loans

Universal Credit Claimants: Budgeting Loans (BL) are not available to those on Universal Credit. It’s been replaced with the ‘Budgeting advance’ which is also a loan. Repayments are automatically deducted from future UC payments. You begin repaying our BL as soon as you receive your first benefit payment. Deductions will be either 20% or 40%.

For those still receiving benefits that UC replaces, BL are still available. Not a good alternative to Community Care Grants – because you have to pay the money back. But they are far easier to get. A form is submitted similar to the CCG form, again itemised list of items is required.

You can have at most £1500 of BL at any one time, although you could apply for Scottish Welfare Fund ‘Crisis Grants’ in addition to that. You cannot ask for a loan of less than £100.

Budgeting Loan claim form 


Qualifying Conditions – you must be receiving one of the following:

  • Income based JSA
  • Income based ESA
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • On benefit for at least 26 weeks (breaks of less than 28 weeks are ignored)
  • No savings/capital in excess of £1000 (you’ll get less if you have over this amount)

If you have debt from other BL the amount you still owe will be deducted from the maximum £1500 limit. Although there are exceptions, those subject to ‘immigrant control’ cannot get this loan.


You can only get a BL for the following categories:

  • furniture & household equipment
  • clothing & footwear
  • maternity expenses
  • funeral expenses
  • rent in advance and/or removal expenses 
  • improvement, maintenance and security of the home
  • travelling expenses
  • expenses associated with seeking or re-entering work
  • debts for any of the above items


They’re interest free (at present). Repayment is deducted from benefit at an agreed rate – best to negotiate that with the DWP to be at a low rate, their initial offer will be at a higher rate and people often don’t challenge that. You can request repayment terms changed later, but you have to argue financial hardship at that point.

Appealing a Decision

You can ask for an internal review within 28 days, done by a different decision maker. If this fails, you can ask for a second-tier review by the Independent Case Examiner.


Sure Start Maternity Grants
  • £500 for each child
  • Free money – is not a loan, is not repaid
  • A lot of people qualify for this but fail to claim it
  • You only have 3 months to submit a claim after the birth
  • No capital limits
  • Must not have another child under 16

Qualifying Conditions: you, or your partner, must be receiving one of the following:

  • Income support
  • Pension credits
  • Income based job seekers allowance
  • Universal credit
  • Severe hardship payments
  • Working tax credit (so low waged claimants) with any disability element
  • Child tax credit (paid more than just the family element)

Or must expect to receive them after the baby is born (e.g. an initially childless couple who will qualify for child tax credit when their baby is born).


Funeral Payments

Funeral costs will be paid for by the DWP if you are on benefits or low waged. They don’t pay much though (around £600) so some funeral directors won’t deal with these cases. Again is time barred – you only have three months to claim. And again, claimants are missing out even though they’re entitled to this. Click the link above to get the claim form.

But if any other close relatives have an income, the DWP will hold that they should pay for the funeral instead unless the other relative is estranged, or can convincingly pretend to be estranged.

Qualifying benefits – you must be receiving at least one of the following:

  • Income support
  • Pension credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Income based JSA
  • Income based ESA
  • Working tax credit with any disability element
  • Child tax credit (= so low waged claimants)
  • Housing benefit (= so low waged claimants)
  • Council tax benefit (= so low waged claimants)

Another option would be to refuse to pay the undertakers after the funeral is over – but some now insist on cash payments before the funeral because of that risk.


Cold Weather Payments
  • Paid automatically
  • When the temperature for 7 days – one after the other – is below zero
  • £25 per week flat rate payment

Qualifying Rules

You must be a pensioner, disabled, or a have a baby and either

  • receive income support, income based JSA, income based ESA or Universal Credit
  • are a pensioner with Pension Credits, or get a disability premium, or have a child under five years or
  • receive child tax credits with disability element for a child.


Winter Fuel Payments

For everyone over 60

  • Paid automatically to those who received it the previous year
  • those receiving their pension
  • those receiving any other benefit.
  • £200 per year if aged 60-79
  • £300 per year if aged 80

If you are still working & not receiving either pension credit or any other benefit

  • you are still entitled to these payments
  • but to receive payment, you must make a claim on or before 31 March

Winter Fuel Payments Helpline 0345 915 1515

Online application form


Couples just get one single payment, not a double payment.

A pensioner couple – get £200 in total, effectively £100 each, instead of 

Two single pensioners – who get £200 each, so £400 is paid out in total.



[Sources: CPAG ‘Welfare Benefits & Tax Credits’ Handbook 2016/2017 and Citizens Advice Bureau website]

[Last updated: July 2018]

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