A guide to Community Care Grants available to help people on low income (income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance) get extra financial help enabling them to live independently.
You can no longer apply for a Community Care Grant in England, Scotland or Wales. You need to contact your local council to see what help is available following the abolition of the discretionary social fund (SF) from 1 April 2013.
Information on the financial support available in N.Ireland to support people in times of financial crisis or need is here.
They can be awarded from the Social Fund to:
- help people establish in the community following a stay in institution or care home in which they received care
- help people remain in the community rather than enter an institution or care home in which they will receive care
- ease exceptional pressures on people and their families
- help people set up home in the community, as part of a planned resettlement programme, following an unsettled way of life
- help people to care for a prisoner or young offender on release on temporary licence, or
- help people with expenses to make certain journeys such as attending a relative’s funeral or visiting someone who is ill.
You must be getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, or payment on account of one of them (or about to get any of them on leaving an institution or residential accommodation in which you have received care) in order to be eligible for a Community Care Grant.
Community Care Grants can cover a wide range of personal circumstances. Some of the wide variety of situations which may prompt an application for a grant are illustrated later in this section.
But, bear in mind that anyone can apply for a grant in any circumstances. Whether a grant can be awarded depends on all of the conditions being met and on your needs being of sufficient priority to warrant a payment from limited funds. Further information on the circumstances for which grants may be given is contained in the guide as follows:
- Leaving an establishment in which you received care
- Help to stay in the community
- >If you and your family are under exceptional pressure
- >Caring for a prisoner or young offender on release on temporary licence
- Setting up home as part of a planned resettlement programme
- Expenses for certain journeys.
These parts are followed by a section which lists the sort of expenses a Community Care Grant may cover. The last part deals with payment and reviews.
A decision maker will decide if you should get a Community Care Grant and, if so, how much it should be.
Who can get a Community Care Grant?
If you get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit or payment on account of one of them, or you are due to leave an institution or care home within 6 weeks, and are likely to get one of those benefits or entitlements on leaving, you may be eligible for a Community Care Grant.
However, if you or your partner are involved in a trade dispute, you will only be eligible for a grant in respect of travelling expenses for visiting persons who are ill or in hospital.
A decision maker at Jobcentre Plus will decide whether you should get a Community Care Grant. We will consider all the circumstances of your application.
We will also have to consider the balance available in the Social Fund budget, to ensure there is enough money to pay for your Community Care Grant. In doing this, we will consider your case compared to other applications. We have a duty not to overspend the annual budget.
We must consider each application on its individual merits.
If you have recently applied for a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Loan
If you have applied for a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Loan for the same items or services within the last 28 days, and there has not been a relevant change of circumstances, then you will not get a Community Care Grant.
Needs which are not covered by a Community Care Grant
You cannot get a Community Care Grant for the following:
- a need which occurs outside the United Kingdom
- or an educational or training need including clothing and tools
- or distinctive school uniform or sports clothes for use at school or equipment to be used at school
- or travelling expenses to or from school
- or school meals taken during school holidays by children who are entitled to free school meals
- or expenses in connection with court (legal proceedings) such as legal fees, court fees, fines, costs, damages, subsistence or travelling expenses (see Crisis Loans )
- or removal or storage charges if you are being rehoused following a compulsory purchase order, a redevelopment or closing order, a compulsory exchange of tenancies, or under homelessness legislation
- or domestic assistance and respite care
- orany repair to council property and, in Scotland, any repair to property of certain housing trusts (you should contact your local council for advice)
- or a medical, surgical, optical, aural or dental item or service (note that needs under all of these headings can be provided free of charge by the National Health Service, if you are getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), or Pension Credit)
- or work related expenses
- or debts to government departments
- or investments
- or costs of purchasing, renting or installing a telephone and of any call charges
- or any expense which the local authority has a statutory duty to meet
- or costs of fuel consumption and any associated standing charges
- or housing costs, other than minor repairs and improvements and charges for accommodation associated with certain visits (see – Expenses for certain journeys below )
- or council tax, council water charges, arrears of community charge, collective community charge contributions or community water charges
- or daily living expenses, such as food and groceries, except when caring for a prisoner on release on temporary licence or where a Crisis Loan cannot be awarded for such expenses because the £1,500 limit has been reached by the applicant.
Leaving an establishment in which you received care
You may get a Community Care Grant if you are leaving accomodation in which you received significant and substantial care and supervision.
Examples of such accommodation are:
- hospital or other medical establishment
- care home
- staff intensive sheltered housing
- local authority care
- prison or detention centre.
Not only must you be leaving one of these places, you must be establishing yourself in the community. One of the factors that we will take into account when deciding this is the length of time you were in the accommodation in which you received care. But the most important factor is the level of individual care and supervision you had while you were living there.
If you are providing care for someone who has just left an establishment in which they received care
If you are looking after someone and we agree that help with your expenses will help them to establish themselves in the community then you may also be able to get a Community Care Grant. For example, if you have to move home to look after someone in these circumstances, then you may get help with things like removal expenses, travel costs or connection charges. You would need to be getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit or payment on account of one of them, but the person you are caring for does not.
Help to stay in the community
You may get a Community Care Grant if this will help you to stay in the community rather than enter accomodation to receive care. One of the factors we will consider is how immediate is the likelihood of going into such accommodation, and whether the type of item or service you need would prevent this happening.
Some examples are:
- help with expenses for improving your home to maintain living conditions
- help to move to a more suitable place to live or to be nearer someone who will give you care and support.
Providing care for someone to help them remain in the community
You may get a Community Care Grant if you are caring for someone and we agree that a payment to you will help them to remain in the community rather than enter accomodation to receive care.
For example, you may need to move to be near, or to live with, the person who requires additional support. You may get removal expenses, travel costs, or connection charges. To get help with a grant, you would have to be getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit, or payment on account of one of them, but the person you are caring for does not.
If you and your family are under exceptional pressure
You may get a Community Care Grant to help with costs to ease exceptional pressures on you and your family.
All families at some time or other suffer from pressure arising from different kinds of problems. This is normal. But if there is exceptional pressure in your family, then you may be able to get a Community Care Grant.
Some examples of situations that may give rise to exceptional pressure are:
- you or someone in your family suffers from a disability or chronic sickness which gives rise to an exceptional need
- there is, or has been, a breakdown of relationships within your family, perhaps involving domestic violence
- there is a serious problem with your accommodation, such as overcrowding or structural problems
- domestic upheaval because of an unforeseen calamity such as house fire, flooding or other disaster.
The above is not an exhaustive list. What causes exceptional pressure can cover a very wide range of personal circumstances. For example, a chronic illness or disability can give rise to many needs from safety/security items to removal expenses to move to more suitable accommodation.
However, it does not mean that if any of the general situations above apply, it automatically follows that exceptional pressures exist.
We will look at all the factors causing pressures on you and your family and will decide:
- whether any of them individually or collectively when looked at as a whole constitute exceptional pressure,
and if so:
- whether what you have asked for will ease that exceptional pressure.
We may ask you if we can consult a social worker or other agency about your application.
Caring for a prisoner or young offender on release on temporary licence
If someone on temporary licence from prison or from a youth detention centre is going to be staying with you then you may be able to get a Community Care Grant. These payments normally would be towards their living expenses while they are in your home. You would have to be getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit or payment on account of one of them while they are visiting you to be eligible for a Community Care Grant.
Setting up home as part of a planned resettlement programme
If you are about to move into your own accommodation as part of a resettlement programme, you may be able to get a Community Care Grant.
The grant may be given to you to help you set up home in your own accommodation, if you are on a planned resettlement programme following an unsettled way of life. For example, you may have stayed in a night shelter before you were on a resettlement programme.
You are more likely to get a Community Care Grant if you have had an unsettled way of life for a long time.
Expenses for certain journeys
A Community Care Grant may be awarded for travelling expenses for any reason within the UK, if the specific conditions above are met. However, travelling expenses and the reasonable cost of overnight accommodation within the UK may be awarded to make a journey to:
- visit someone who is ill
- attend a relative’s funeral
- ease a domestic crisis
- visit a child who is with the other parent pending a court decision
- or move to more suitable accommodation.
You may be able to get a grant to cover your travel costs of the standard rate public transport, or petrol costs or taxi costs if no public transport is available.
If you are visiting a member of your family in hospital, some of the money you still get for them in the form of benefits or entitlements may be considered to be available to meet the total cost of the journeys.
You may be able to get a grant to cover overnight accommodation if it is not practicable or reasonable to return home the same day.
What a Community Care Grant covers
You can get a Community Care Grant for many different needs or expenses, so long as these are not excluded in law (see list above). Some examples of expenses, in terms of specific items and services, are:
- furniture (like settee, armchair, carpets, curtains, wardrobe)
- or household equipment (like cooker, fridge, washer, bed), bedding, clothing
- or travel costs
- or removal expenses
- or storage charges
- or connection charges.
Priorities for Community Care Grants
You should note that it does not matter how essential or important an item or service is, an award for it is only appropriate if we decide it will meet a need for community care, as described above.
If we decide that an award will meet a need for community care, we must then decide whether an award has sufficient priority for a payment from the limited budget.
For example, we may decide that a grant for certain clothing items will help someone who has just left a care home to establish in the community.
We may also decide, taking all the facts into account, that the grant for clothing would be of minor importance in helping the applicant to establish themselves in the community. This is called prioritising the application.
Whether an award of a Community Care Grant could be made would depend on the funds available in the grant budget. If there is a very high level of demand on the budget, then in the above example, the grant application is likely to be refused on the grounds of priority. If there are significant funds still left in the budget, a grant might be appropriate.
We will decide how much you will be paid.
The minimum amount that can be awarded is £30 although separate arrangements exist for travelling expenses.
For other expenses, including travelling expenses, we will award an amount which we decide is appropriate.
Remember, Community Care Grants do not have to be repaid.
Deciding the amount
We may query the amount you are applying for if, in our opinion, this seems too much.
If you have any savings
The amount of Community Care Grant you get will be reduced, on a pound for pound basis, by any savings you or your partner have over £500 (£1000 if you and/or your partner are aged 60 or over).
How to apply
You should contact Jobcentre Plus. If you are aged 60 or over you may wish to contact the Pension Service.
For your Jobcentre Plus office or Pension Centre look for the display advert in the business numbers section of the phone book.
Leaving an establishment providing you with care
You can apply for a Community Care Grant if you are still in accommodation providing care, if you expect to get Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (income-related), Pension Credit or payment on account of one of these when you leave. You can apply up to 6 weeks before you are discharged, but any grant awarded to help you set up home may not be paid to you until nearer the time you leave care.
What happens when a decision is made
Once we have decided on your application, which will usually be within 2 weeks, you will be sent a letter letting you know the decision. If you get a grant, the letter will tell you the amount of money you will get.
How you are paid
Community Care Grants will usually be paid by Direct Payment into a bank, building society or other account provider account which you have nominated.
Effects on other benefits
There will be no effect on any other benefit from having a Community Care Grant.
If you are dissatisfied with the decision on your application
If you are unhappy with the decision, you may ask for it to be reviewed