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Benefits Blog

by Tombenefits

news and thoughts from the world of welfare rights
26 July 2017 at 12:30

The new Turn2Us Response Fund

Maggie’s are delighted to be joining a partnership with Turn2Us to enable my fellow Benefits Advisors and I to make applications to their new Response Fund.

This new fund may not be specifically for people affected by cancer but could be highly relevant to many people affected by cancer.

 

1. Who are Turn2Us?

The charity began life back in 1897 as the Distressed Gentlefolk’s Aid Association.

It still has a core fund giving charitable grants to people with professional backgrounds facing reduced circumstances. That is now called the Elizabeth Finn Fund - more details of that fund are available here

However, in recent years, their reach has widened and the charity rebranded accordingly as Turn2Us. This reaches out to everyone, offering information about social security benefits and provides access to an online Benefits Checker and a Grants Search facility.

You can access either of these from the page here.

The Benefits Checker offers a great way to narrow down the benefits that might apply in your circumstances, do some of the scary sums and give you a sense of what you may be entitled to or missing out on.

That can then help you feel it is worth the effort to go talk to a Benefits Advisor to explore those claims further. In a typical year, 1.3 million benefit calculations are made.

There are hundreds of grant making funds out there, large and small. Some are quite general and well known, others very small, local or with very specific criteria. Unearthing all the ones that might help in your particular circumstances, can seem very difficult.

The Grants Finder will help you search them out and some 550,000 searches are made every year. If there is are grants available for distressed beekeepers born within the parish of… then the Grant Finder will track it down :-)

You can find out more about Turn2Us as a whole from the About Us section of their website here.

 

2. What is the Turn2Us Response Fund?

This is a new fund - launched in March 2017 - available to anyone who meets the income criteria and who has been through a life changing event in the previous 12 months, such as serious illness, job loss or bereavement.

Examples listed on their web-page - available here - include: bereavement and funeral costs, starting to live with a disability, domestic abuse, ill health or injury, coping after a recent diagnosis, poor health, job loss or reduction in hours, relationship breakdown, housing difficulties and any other occurrences which impact severely on an individuals quality of life.

The havoc that can be created when cancer comes crashing into your life - whether as the person with the cancer or a carer - is exactly the sort of thing that the Response Fund aims to help with.

As Alison Taylor, Turn2Us Director of Operations put it:

“We see on a daily basis the devastating effects that a life-changing event such as job loss, bereavement, or long term health can have on an individual or family’s income in a short space of time and the turmoil that this can cause. We are setting up this new fund to help people when they need it most - and before there is a downward spiral from which it can be hard to climb up. Through providing timely and compassionate financial support, we want to assist people as they move on and improve their situation”

And my fellow Maggie's Benefit Advisors and I,  see just such situations every day, associated with the financial challenges that cancer can bring. Incomes may or may not drop - whether straightaway or at some future point. Some may have a steady retirement income or good full sick pay schemes, others may see a rapid drop as they or a carer has to take time out from work.

But, all are likely to face some of the extra costs cancer can bring: taxis when the bus is not an option, turning up the heating, changing size and clothes, a need for a break, being nice to yourself and a well earned treat now and then.

So this could be a partnership made in heaven :-) Some of our Centre Visitors may be exactly the sort of people - in a state of turmoil and change -  that the Response Fund is aiming to reach. The Fund, then,  adds a very welcome extra string to our bow in working out a potential package of financial support when working with you, O gentle readers and beloved Centre Visitors :-) .

 

3 How do I apply to the Response Fund?

You don’t :-)

Applications are made via partner organisations e.g your Maggies Benefits Advisor or another member of your Maggie’s Centre team.

So you would come to us - at your nearest Maggie’s Centre or here at the Online Centre - just as before.

For example, that innocent tentative enquiry about help with hospital fares, might turn gently into a full benefits check and identifying a lot more help than you’d bargained for :-) And such happy surprise will continue just as before, but now that might include an application to the Response Fund, where appropriate.

It may then be just as much your Maggie’s Benefits Advisor suggesting an application to you, as you remembering to ask specifically about it :-).

But do feel free to ask about the Fund anyway, but do please be prepared for a full benefits check and some possible other help as well :-) It is partly that as Advisors we just can't help ourselves :-) and partly it is a condition of any Response Fund application.

 

4. What might a Response Fund Grant help with?

The broad scope of the Fund was outlined in March:

“The Fund will help support people when they have had a -life-changing event in the last 12 months which has left them in financial hardship. Grants will be provided for specific needs which are essential to financial stability, wellbeing and independence; to maintain normal daily living”

It’s not, then, a set menu, so much as the Fund considering needs relevant to their general aims; the response seeks to be flexible :-) Examples given include: household items, transport and funeral costs, respite and general living costs.

But that is by no means an exhaustive list - there may be a specific need however wild, whacky and unusual but still very important for you, that the Fund might be able to consider. 

There are, though, some things the Fund can’t help with: where there is a statutory provision already, to pay off debts or help with business start-ups.

General living costs could come in handy in that year of big financial changes after diagnosis. Financial impacts might be immediate as you await some key benefits or may occur later down the line, if income falls off or extra costs mount up.

Longer term,  the answer might lie in support to access some extra regular benefits income.

But some of the most useful extra benefits for lifting your income above basic subsistence benefit - such as PIP and Attendance Allowance - can take up to 3 months for a decision. And your claim can be wrongly turned down, with a further delay until an appeal.

And as Universal Credit replaces other “safety net” benefits in your area, some may find the standard 6 week wait until first payment as unbearable, as it is irresponsible of the DWP to make it so.

There are then times when the Response Fund might be very helpful to tide things over until benefits entitlements can kick in to provide the more enduring support

So, the Response Fund might help with some very specific one off items/needs or offer a one-off payment as a stop gap for general living costs if you are struggling until benefits can be sorted. And both kinds of help might be needed in those early days after diagnosis or as things change over your cancer journey.

Grants are a one off payment with a maximum of £1,000 for a single person household and £1,500 for a couple, but the amount will depend on the need and the extent to which you could be helped with that.

 

5. How long does a grant take?

Your Maggie’s Benefits Adviser can apply for you online, but they will also need to send in copies of bank statements and a declaration form signed by you. Once everything is sent to Turn2Us, you should receive a decision within a week or so

 

6. What are the financial criteria?

For the Response Fund, you - and any partner - must have less than £4,000 in savings.

Your income is assessed after essential housing costs and the remainder must be below the following limits to qualify:
  - of working age, fit and well - single £175 per week, couple £215
  - of working age with ill health & on an ill health benefit - single £210, couple £300
  - of pension age - single £255 , couple £337 per week

A similar income calculation is used for the Elizabeth Finn Fund, although here the savings limit is set higher at £16,000

 

7. Are there any other criteria?

The other basic criteria are that you are:

  - of British or Irish nationality or have a right to reside in the UK or Ireland

  - are over 18 and not studying full time for a degree

  - and you meet the general criteria for the fund e.g. linked to an event in the last 12 months and your needs fit in with the aims and purposes of the Response Fund.

 

8. What if I can’t qualify?

There are many other sources of financial support and my fellow Benefit Advisers will be looking at any potential Response Fund application in the context of a full benefits check.

While some “means tested" benefits have even tighter financial conditions than the Fund, others can go further up the income scale, so they may still apply.

And don’t forget, some benefits are not affected by income or savings at all :-)

So, it is still worth calling in at tour nearest Maggie's Centre or messaging me here in the Online Centre, for a general benefits check, whether or not the Response Fund is relevant in your case.

As well as other benefits that you may be missing out on, there may be other grant making bodies relevant to your particular need that we can track down using the Turn2Us Grants Finder.

 

9. So to sum up this Benefits Blog:

  - this new Turn2 Us Response Fund is a valuable addition to your Benefit Advisors toolkit of financial support options for people affected by cancer.


  - you won’t automatically qualify - nor for any particular amount - simply because of a cancer diagnosis. It will depend on your need and your finances; it’s a flexible response judging each case on its merits, within the overall criteria


  - if the Response Fund may not be appropriate for you, other financial support may be :-) So you are never allowed to say that you won’t get any help, without a signed note from your friendly Maggie’s Centre Benefits Advisor :-)

As ever, Online Centre visitors should please feel free to message me for individual queries about the fund or benefits in general.

Please also feel free to make general comments and queries by joining the Conversation here

And you will always be very welcome in any of the Maggie's Centres around the country to talk to one of my colleagues. To find out your nearest - or most convenient - Centre, please enter your town or postcode on the Maggie's homepage here.

Best wishes,

Tom



Registered Office: Maggie's, The Stables, Western General Hospital, Crewe Road, Edinburgh EH4 2XU   Registered Charity Number: SC024414
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