Community care grants and crisis loans are no longer availabe in Northern Ireland but people experiencing a financial crisis can apply for Discretionary Help from the Finance Support Service.
According to the nidirect website, Discretionary Support provides quick, short-term financial support and -
- you must have an extreme, exceptional or crisis situation which places you or your immediate family’s health, safety or wellbeing at significant risk
- you must be a resident of Northern Ireland
- help can only be provided within Northern Ireland, so you cannot receive Discretionary Support for a crisis which occurs anywhere else
- you must be over 18 years old or at least 16 years old if you do not have any parental support
- you can receive Discretionary Support if you are working or receiving benefits but your annual income must not be above a set threshold (currently the national living wage of £15,600 per annum)
- if you receive a Discretionary Support award for an item such as a washing machine or mattress, you cannot receive another award for the same item in the same 12 month period
- you cannot be awarded more than a maximum of three loans and one grant in a 12 month period
- if your combined Social Fund, Discretionary Support and Short-term Benefit Advance debt is £1,000 or more, you will not be able to get a Discretionary Support loan until your debt falls below this limit
If you are eligible, you could be offered a Discretionary Support loan or grant. The Finance Support Advisor taking your application will decide whether a grant or loan is appropriate.
More information, including on how to apply and how to challenge an unfavourable decision, is available from the nidirect website.