The Social Fund – A Guide

Focus on Disability - For Disabled People, the Elderly and their Carers in the UK

This guidance was withdrawn on 

This guidance is no longer current and is not being updated. Find up to date guidance about:

If you are on low income, the Social Fund can help with funeral payments, maternity grants, crisis loans, budgeting loans, and cold weather payments.

See also: Universal Credit (UL) – A Guide

Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants are still available in Northern Ireland but will be replaced by the Discretionary Support Scheme once the Welfare Reform Bill (Northern Ireland) becomes law.

This benefit is dealt with by Jobcentre Plus.

The Social Fund provides lump sum payments, grants and crisis loans.

You can no longer apply for a Community Care Grant in England, Scotland or Wales.

Loans from the Social Fund are discretionary and not for a standard amount. You may be able to get help from the Social Fund for important costs that are hard to pay for out of your regular income.

Minimum and maximum amounts

The minimum you can be paid as a Budgeting Loan is £100. Your maximum debt to the Social Fund, including both Budgeting Loan and Crisis Loan debt, cannot be more than £1,500. So, after deciding how much you can have as a new Budgeting Loan using all the preceding tests above, we may restrict this loan in order to keep your total debt within £1,500.

If you need things for your home or other things that you cannot pay for in a lump sum, and you get Income Support, income-based Jobsseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit, or payment on account of one of these benefits, you may be able to get a Budgeting Loan.

If you need immediate help with day-to-day living costs or something else in an emergency, you may be able to get a Crisis Loan.

Partner means a person you are married to or a person you are living with as if you are married to them.

If you get a low-income benefit or tax credit and need help towards paying for a funeral, you may be able to get a
Funeral Payment – see below.

If you or your partner are getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit, and have a child
aged under 5, or you are disabled or aged 60 or over, you may be able to get a Cold Weather Payment.

Winter Fuel Payments are paid to eligible households that include someone aged 60 or over to help with their winter fuel bills.

Funeral payments:

If there are no other means of paying for a funeral, you may be able to claim a Social Fund funeral payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. Eligibility is based on your own circumstances (rather than those of the deceased) and you may be eligible if you,
or your partner, are receiving at least one of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income-related)
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award
  • Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element [Legislation (4): From April 2012 to April 2013 this means a Child Tax Credit rate of £548 a year or more, or £1,095 a year or more if you have a baby under 1 year old.]

You can claim a funeral payment any time between the date of the death and up to three months after the date of the funeral. The payment you receive will cover the cost of specified necessary items and services (such as burial fees) and up to £700 for other
funeral expenses. Be aware that the payment will not necessarily cover all the costs of the funeral, so there may be an outstanding amount that you have to pay.

You are entitled to a funeral payment if:

You, or your partner, have been awarded a qualifying benefit at the time of your claim (Universal Credit, income support, income-based JSA, working families tax credit, disabled person’s tax credit, housing benefit or council tax benefit); and

You, or your partner, accept responsibility for the costs of a funeral (ie you have paid or are liable to pay for them), which takes place in the UK ( or other European Economic Areas where agreements have been made); and

The deceased was ordinarily resident in the UK when she/he died; and

You claim within the time limits; and

You do not have to much capital; and

You fall into one of the groups of people who are eligible to claim.

You can only claim if you fall into one of the following groups:

You were the partner of the deceased when he/she died, or before either of you entered residential or nursing care (ie you were married, or unmarried and of the opposite sex and living together as husband and wife).
The deceased was a child you were responsible for and there is no absent parent (unless he/she is getting a qualifying benefit), or the deceased was a stillborn child.
You were a close relative or a close friend of the deceased. Close relative means parent (or parent-in-law), son (-in-law), daughter (in-law), brother (in-law), sister (in-law), stepson/daughter (in-law) or step parent. You can only get a payment as close relative or friend if it is reasonable for you to accept responsibility for the funeral costs, given the nature and extent of your contact with the deceased.
You cannot get a payment, however, if the deceased had a partner; or there is a parent, son or daughter of the deceased who is not either getting a qualifying benefit; or in prison or hospital immediately following a period on a qualifying benefit; or under 18; or aged 18 and in full time education; or a fully maintained member of a religious order; or someone who was estranged from the deceased; or

There is a ‘close relative’ (see above) of the deceased aged 18 or over who was in closer contact with him or her than you were ( or had equally close contact and is not getting a qualifying benefit, or has over £500 capital ( and more capital than you have ) £1000 if h/she is aged 60 or over)

How much:

The following costs can be met:

In the case of burial, the necessary cost of purchasing a new burial plot with exclusive rights plus necessary burial fees or, in the case of cremation, necessary cremation fess, including medical certificates and fees. The cost of documentation required to release the deceased’s assets.The reasonable cost of transport for the portion of the journey in excess of 50 miles, undertaken to transport the body within the UK to a funeral directors premises or to a place of rest and to transport the coffin, bearers and mourners in two vehicles to the funeral.The necessary costs of one return journey from your home, for you or your partner to arrange or attend the funeral, if you are responsible for the funeral costs.

Up to £700 for other funeral expenses (£120 if you have a pre-paid funeral plan which does not cover these expenses).

The following amounts are deducted from an award of a funeral payment (you should also note that a funeral payment is
recoverable from the deceased estate):

Any capital you, or your partner, have above £500 (£1000 if either of you is aged 60 or over). Capital is worked out as for income support, except that a widows payment (£1000) is ignored for 12 months after your husbands death. Any of the deceased assets which are available to you without probate or letters of administration. Any lump sum due to you on the death of the deceased from an insurance policy, occupational pension, war pension, burial club or similar scheme. Any contribution towards the funeral costs from a charity or relative of yours or the deceased;

Any amount from a prepaid funeral plan or similar scheme.

Note that any payment from the MacFarlane or Eileen Trusts or Fund are ignored.

How to claim:

Claim on form SF200 ( You must claim at any time from the date of death up to 3 months after the
date of the funeral. If you are waiting for a decision on a qualifying benefit, you should still claim within the time limits and then
re-claim within 3 months of being awarded a qualifying benefit.

The Bereavement Service numbers are:

Phone: 0845 606 0265
Phone: 0845 606 0275 (Welsh)
Textphone: 0845 606 0285
Textphone: 0845 606 0295 (Welsh)


If you disagree with any decision relating to grants available by right, you can appeal to a tribunal.

Further help with the Social Fund can be found from The Independent Review Service (IRS) at: – useful information about the social fund, as well as details of how to apply for an independent review.

updated June 2020