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Waltham Forest Social Fund

Last updated 5 August 2014

From April 2013 a new local assistance scheme to assist the most vulnerable has been introduced to replace some of the discretionary elements of the Social Fund that was administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

The council’s scheme is known as Waltham Forest Social Fund (WFSF).

For full details see Waltham Forest Social Fund scheme proposed policy and qualifying criteria.



Brief details of the help that may be available to persons meeting the qualifying criteria are listed below.

Please read these before applying.

                          NO CASH PAYMENTS WILL BE MADE

Who we can help

We may be able to help you if you

  • Are aged 16 or over
  • Have recourse to public funds
  • Have been continuously resident in Waltham Forest for the previous six months, with the exception of those fleeing domestic violence or leaving an institution
  • Have not been housed in Waltham Forest by another local authority
  • Are entitled to a qualifying benefit such as:
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseekers' Allowance
    • Income-related Employment Support allowance
    • Pension Credit
    • Housing Benefit
    • Council Tax Support
  • Are not in a hospital, care home or prison (unless you are due to be discharged within six weeks)
  • Do not have savings that can be relied on to meet the need
  • Have not received a DWP Social Fund Crisis Loan, or a Waltham Forest Social Fund Loan or Grant, within the past 6 months
  • Are seeking support to pay for an approved item
  • Are willing to join the Credit Union prior to receiving a loan
  • Do not have sufficient resources to prevent serious risk to your own, or your family’s health or safety

Priority will be given to:

  • Families with children
  • People with disabilities
  • People seeking to access further education courses (up-skilling) to improve their job prospects

What we can help with

The Waltham Forest Social Fund is unlikely to offer you help or support unless you need:

  • Help with settling into a new home after a period in an institution
  • Help to avoid having to go into care
  • Help moving due to domestic violence
  • Help to care for someone who is leaving care or prison
  • Help after a domestic disaster, such as a fire, flood or burglary
  • Emergency help with household essentials, such as food or energy, and the health of you, or a member of your immediate family, will be severely affected if you do not get this help.

What our scheme cannot help with

We cannot help in the following situations:

  • While you are waiting for your first DWP payment
  • You have a change in your circumstances, but remain on DWP benefit
  • Your DWP benefit has been disallowed
  • Your DWP benefit has been sanctioned.

In these situations, you will need to contact your local DWP office, who may be able to grant you a short term advance.

How we will help you

If you require food, we will provide you with food vouchers, or a referral to the local food bank.

If you require essential household items to help you set up home, or remain in your home, we will provide a referral to a local community project.

We can also refer you to the Waltham Forest Community Credit Union

How to apply

Use our online form to apply. You can only apply online. 

You will need to provide identification (preferably photo ID), unless you are already receiving Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support from Waltham Forest council. We may also need to see other evidence depending on what help you are asking for. More information is given on the application form.

What happens next

We will try to look at your application within one working day and, once all required evidence is provided, will make a decision as soon as possible.

If you're successful...

  • We will contact you, using your preferred method, to advise you of the result of your application
  • We will make arrangements to fulfil your requirements.

If you're unsuccessful...

  • We will contact you, using your preferred method, to advise you of the outcome of your application
  • You can make an appeal. Please see below
  • We will offer you alternative methods of assistance

Other sources of help

You may also be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan from the DWP if you have been in receipt of one of these benefits for 26 weeks or more:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseekers' Allowance
  • Income-related Employment Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit.

If approved, these loans can help with:

  • Rent in advance
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Travel expenses
  • Support to help you look for, or start, work
  • Maternity or funeral expenses

You should contact your local DWP office for more information.

About our policy

This is a new service provided by the Council, and we wish to understand the nature of the demand before producing a formal policy. We have an interim policy in place, which is outlined below.

The key policy objectives that outline what this assistance is aiming to achieve are:

  • To prevent serious risk to the health, wellbeing or safety of the area’s most financially excluded residents
  • To ease severe financial pressure on families in certain situations
  • To help those, without the necessary means, to either establish themselves in the community as a transition from instructional care or to remain in their community
  • To align with the new homelessness strategy with the broad aims of preventing homelessness, developing alternative housing options, supporting vulnerable groups, promoting tenancy sustainment and ending rough sleeping
  • To give flexible financial help to those in genuine need

Unhappy with our decision?

You can appeal against any decision made other than:

  • Those made by Waltham Forest Community Credit Union to refuse an application for a loan, or to offer a loan for less than the amount applied for.
  • A decision to award an application for a grant in full
  • The way in which the decision to award a grant is given effect including but not limited to the use of non-cash awards and the choice of any goods provided to give effect to the grant

You must make your appeal:

  • Within 14 days of the issuing of a decision notice, or such longer time as the Council considers reasonable subject to an overall limit of 13 weeks from the date that the decision notice was issued.
  • You should email with details of the reasons why you disagree with our decision.

Your email must:

  • State why you believe the decision should be changed
  • Contain any further information and evidence that you believe the Council should consider when reviewing its decision
  • For the avoidance of doubt, no further request for information or evidence will be made by the Council when considering an appeal and, in cases of doubt, a negative inference may be drawn

Any appeal will be considered by an officer of senior grade to the officer who made the original decision and was not involved in making the decision under appeal.

The officer considering the appeal will make a decision as soon as reasonably practicable after receiving the appeal.

If a person remains dissatisfied following the review process they may submit a formal complaint under the Council's complaints procedures.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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