Community Care Grants are available to people that are struggling to live independently. Until recently, people across the whole of the UK were able to apply for such a grant, but now they are restricted to residents of Northern Ireland.
The grants do not have to be repaid and applications can be made by those in receipt of income support, state pension credits, jobseekers allowance and employment or support allowance.
People who are likely to start receiving one of the above mentioned benefits within the next six weeks are also able to make an application.
However, as well as receiving benefits, applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are unable to live independently.
Typically, the grants are given to those moving out of residential care; people being rehomed after by an organisation such as Women’s Aid or the Salvation Army; those who need help to stay in their own properties; people with long-term illnesses; carers and those that need help to visit relatives or attend a funeral.
They cannot be used to pay for things like educational products, school uniforms, fuel costs and debts.
The amount of money provided depends on the applicants individual circumstances and it can be reduced if the person has any savings. Because community care grants do not classify as income, they do not have any impact on benefit payments, though.
How to apply
On the website of NI Direct Services (indirect.gov.uk) you can download an application form which can then be handed in to your local social services or jobs and benefits office. If you are unsure where your nearest office is, there is a tool on the website which will help you locate it.
In the event of your application being rejected or you being unhappy with the amount of grant offered, you are able to lodge an appeal with the office which oversaw your case within 28 days.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of an appeal you can then write to the Social Fund Inspector, who will reassess your eligibility for community care grants and make a final ruling. In most cases this action is completed within 12 days.