Local Assistance Scheme (replacing the discretionary Social Fund)
The discretionary part of the Social Fund has been replaced by the Local Assistance Scheme since April 2013. There are still some parts of the Social Fund that continue, for example payments for maternity, heating (cold weather and winter fuel allowances) and funeral expenses. The discretionary part used to include Crisis Loans, Community Care Grants and Budgeting Loans.
The new scheme for discretionary payments is now run by Norfolk County Council and is called the Local Assistance Scheme. People will be asked a set of questions to check if they can get an award and will be given priority if they:
- Are Norfolk residents, aged over 16
- Are already receiving an income related benefit
- Have dependent children
- Have a disability or mental health problem
- Are fleeing domestic violence
- Need help to remain in the community
- Are part of a planned resettlement scheme
How are awards made?
If successful, applicants will be assessed to discover whether an award is due, how much and what form it will take. The majority of awards are made in the form of vouchers for household goods or pre-paid cards which can be used at a range of retailers with good coverage across the county. You don’t have to pay anything back.
In exceptional circumstances cash payments can be made straight into an applicant’s bank account through BACS or by using the PayPoint network.
If you are refused, the local authority should tell you alternative local places where you might be able to get help.
Usually, you will only be able to receive one award in any twelve month period.
Go to https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/care-support-and-health/support-to-stay-at-home/local-assistance-scheme for more information and to apply for help from the local assistance scheme.
Help with gas & electricity costs
The Local Assistance Scheme may be able to help with fuel costs during the winter months (between October and March).
If you are behind with payments of your gas or electricity bills, contact your fuel supplier straight away.
If you’re on a pre-payment meter, further advice is available at your nearest Citizens Advice or by going to https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/stop-your-energy-supplier-installing-a-prepayment-meter/
Urgent help with food
If you have an urgent need for food you may be able to use a local foodbank, but may need to get a foodbank voucher from a voucher distributor first, such as Equal Lives.