We all know how it goes with the run-up to Christmas. The kids are over excited from about November, the decorations go up, the parties commence and the food and drinks flow. With everyone having an absolute blast at this time of year, you can’t help but feel you’re the only one sitting back and wondering…how the hell am I going to afford it all…again?! It seems you have only just gotten over the effect of last year’s festivities on your bank balance, only to be knocked right back again with the 25th December looming very close on the horizon. Of course, you’ll get those that say Christmas shouldn’t be about money, but when you’ve got kids expecting presents from Santa just like the kids at school, along with a house to heat and a table needing food, it definitely begins to feel like it.
The Social Fund is designed to help those families on a low income in times of need. The fund can come in the form of one-off or occasional payments that are there to see you through when times are particularly tough. If you do meet the requirements, you can be entitled to payments such as the Budgeting Loan, which helps with essential lump sum expenses and if you are already claiming benefits and have been doing so for 26 weeks or more, you may be entitled to receive one of these. Of course like any loan, the Budgeting Loan does require a repayment, but the difference is the loan is interest-free so there is little to no stress when paying it back.
What can I use the loan for?
Of course, the loan is there for those that really are struggling, so buying the kids an Xbox for Christmas is not what this money should go towards. But if you qualify, you can use the money to pay things such as travel expenses (travelling to and from work/taking the kids to school), clothing and footwear to make sure the children are fully equipped for winter and any improvements that need to be done on your home (broken sink in the bathroom, dodgy front door, uneven floorboards, peeling paint– we feel you). If you are unemployed and want to start looking, the Budgeting loan can also be used to help with expenses that come with getting/starting a job (travel, new clothes, equipment etc). If you have something such as a funeral to pay for, you should check whether you are entitled to help from the Social Fun for this as this is a loan that does not require repayment.
How do I apply?
The easiest way to apply for a Budgeting Loan is to visit your local Job Centre Plus, where you can ask for form SF500. The form will ask a number of questions, all of which unfortunately do have to be answered. Take your time with the form to ensure you’ve answered all of the questions correctly. You do not have to specify how exactly you are going to spend the Budgeting Loan (you may not even know yourself yet) but you will be required to list a number of expenses that you need the Budgeting Loan for such, as children, house maintenance and travel.
If you think you could be entitled to the Budgeting Loan, please don’t suffer in silence. There is no harm in applying for a loan, even if you are not sure if anything will come of it.