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What help is available for urgent or one-off expenses?

It could be a relief to know that the Social Fund is available if you are faced with a cost you are unable to meet because you are living on a low income.

The rules around the Social Fund will change due to Welfare Reform. For more information, or for advice if these changes affect you, or your family, call the Age NI Advice Service on freephone 0808 808 7575.

The Social Fund includes:

  • Community care grants to help you live independently at home by paying for things like furniture, fuel connection, removal costs and minor house repairs. Grants can also help ease exceptional family pressures caused by disability, chronic illness or major changes, and cover urgent travel expenses.
  • Budgeting loans of between £100 and £1500 to help you cover the cost of expensive essential items. You will need to repay them out of your weekly benefits.
  • Crisis loans if you need help because of an emergency or disaster, such as a fire or flood, to help prevent serious damage and keep you safe.
  • Funeral payments for burial or cremation costs and up to £700 for other expenses such as the funeral director’s fees. You should not arrange a funeral until you’ve checked whether you qualify.

Can I claim it?

You usually need to be receiving certain benefits such as Pension Credit or Housing Benefit. You do not have to receive any benefits to apply for a Crisis Loan.

Savings of over £1000 count towards Community Care Grants, and savings of over £2000 count towards Budgeting Loans. Savings are also taken into account for Crisis Loans. There are no savings limits for Funeral Payments.

You can get the Funeral Payments Form SF200, Community Care Grant Form SF300, Budgeting Loan Form SF500 and Crisis Loan Form SF401 from your local Jobcentre Plus office, or download them from

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.

Welfare Reform will replace Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans with Discretionary Support Payments later this year.

How do I claim?

Download the following forms or collect from your local Jobcentre Plus office: 

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Further information


Our Information guides are short and easy to digest, giving a comprehensive overview of the relevant topic. Information sheets and factsheets are longer with more detail, and are aimed at professionals.

You can download other guides in our series from publications

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575

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