Children's handbook Scotland
Chapter 1: Benefits and tax credits
16. The social fund
The social fund makes two types of payments. Regulated social fund payments: Sure Start maternity grants; funeral payments; cold weather payments; winter fuel payments.
You are entitled to regulated social fund payments if you satisfy the qualifying conditions.
Discretionary social fund payments:budgeting loans.
The Department for Work and Pensions is responsible for the administration of the social fund.
This is a grant of £500 to help with the costs of a new baby. To qualify, you must get:
universal credit (UC); or income support (IS); or
income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA); or
income-related employment and support allowance (ESA); or
child tax credit (CTC) at a rate above the family element; or
working tax credit (WTC) including a disability or severe disability element; or
pension credit (PC).
You can only qualify if there is no other member of your family who is under 16 at the time of your claim (there is an exception for multiple births). You can claim from 11 weeks before the birth up to six months after the birth. If you are waiting to hear about a claim for one of the qualifying benefits, make sure to claim the maternity grant within the deadline. Your entitlement is then protected and the grant can be awarded once the benefit decision is made, although you may need to make a second claim within three months of the qualifying benefit being awarded.
You can also qualify if:
you adopt a baby and you claim before the baby is one year old and within six months of the adoption order;
a child aged under one year old is placed with you for adoption and you claim within six months and before the baby is one;you are caring for a child for whom you have a residence order, the child is aged under one and you claim within six months of the residence order being granted and before the baby is one.
In these situations (adoption/residence order), you can still get the grant even if the birth mother or a member of her family has received Sure Start maternity grant for the baby.
If you are a 'person subject to immigration control', you cannot get a maternity grant. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
The Sure Start grant is being replaced by the Best Start grant. This change is expected in late 2018. At the time of writing, the rules were not completely finalised. The Best Start grant will be made up of a pregnancy and new baby grant; a nursery/early learning grant and a school-age grant. The maternity and new baby grant will be £600 for your first baby, or £300 if you already have child(ren). The nursery/early learning grant will be £250 and the school-age grant £250. Unless you are aged under 18 or, in some situations, under 20, you have to be getting a qualifying benefit. These are:
housing benefit (HB);
For more details of the Best Start grant, see www.cpag.org.uk/scottish-benefits/best-start-grant.
A funeral payment is made to help with burial or cremation costs. To qualify, you must get:
IS; or income-based JSA; or income-related ESA; or CTC at a rate above the family element; or WTC including a disability or severe disability element; or PC; or HB; or
Unless you are the partner of the deceased, you may not get a payment if there is a close relative who does not get one of these benefits.
You must claim within three months of the funeral.
If you are a 'person subject to immigration control', you cannot get a funeral grant. The funeral must be for someone who was ordinarily resident in the UK and must usually take place in the UK, but a funeral in another European Economic Area country may qualify in some circumstances. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
You can get a budgeting loan to help you pay for certain items – eg, furniture, clothes, removal expenses, rent in advance, home improvements, travelling expenses and jobseeking expenses. The amount you can get depends on the size of your family and how long you have been on benefit. To qualify, you must have been getting, for at least 26 weeks before your claim is decided: IS; or income-based JSA; or income-related ESA; or PC. You have to repay a budgeting loan.
See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details of who can get a loan and how to apply.
You can get statutory adoption pay (SAP) for 39 weeks if you are adopting a child and are earning at least £116 a week from employment. If a couple (including a same-sex couple) is adopting a child, one can claim SAP and the other may be able to claim statutory paternity pay (SPP) for two weeks. They may also be able to claim statutory shared parental pay (SSPP).
SAP, SPP and SSPP are paid by your employer.
You can get SAP if: you are adopting a child; and you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the week in which you are told you have been matched with a child for adoption; and your average gross earnings are at least £116 a week; and you give your employer the correct notice.
First six weeks:
90% of average weekly earnings
Remaining 33 weeks:
£145.18 (or 90% of earnings if less)
If your partner is adopting a child or if you are jointly adopting a child with your partner, you may be able to get SPP. SPP is either £145.18 or 90 per cent of earnings, whichever is the lower. It is only payable for two weeks. You cannot get both SAP and SPP (see ). You may also be able to get SSPP if your partner is adopting a child or you are jointly adopting a child with your partner. SSPP allows one partner to give up her/his SAP early and the remaining pay to be 'shared' with her/his partner. See for more details.
Tax credits comprise child tax credit (CTC) and working tax credit (WTC). You can be entitled to either CTC or WTC, or both.
CTC can be paid whether you are in or out of work if you have a dependent child. Your entitlement and how much you get depends on how much income you have. WTC can be paid if you are working for at least 16 hours (or in some cases 24 or 30 hours) a week and have a low income.
If you are single, you make a single claim for tax credits. If you have a partner, you make a couple claim.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is responsible for the administration of tax credits.
Tax credits are being replaced by universal credit (UC) and eventually claimants who are on tax credits will be transferred to UC.
CTC is a payment made to people who have children. It can be paid whether you are working or not working. You get a higher amount if you have a child with a disability. The amount of CTC depends on your income in the tax year.
If you are not in the UC system, you qualify for CTC if: you are aged 16 or over; and you are responsible for a child or 'qualifying young person' (see below); and you are 'present and ordinarily resident' in the UK, not a 'person subject to immigration control' and have a 'right to reside'. These terms are explained in CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook; and your income is not too high (see ).
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