The NASUWT Benevolent Fund
The NASUWT Benevolent Fund is available to members, former members and the dependants of members and former members and dependants of deceased members, provided a subscription has been paid to the Union. Sometimes, members experience financial hardship through no fault of their own and as a result of unforeseen circumstances. These situations can arise because of chronic illness, bereavement, an accident or loss of employment through dismissal or redundancy. The NASUWT Benevolent Fund was created to provide effective short-term assistance during such difficulties.
To make an application for benevolence assistance, contact your Local Association Secretary. In the alternative, you can contact the Legal and Casework Team at NASUWT Headquarters, Hillscourt Education Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS. Call 0121 453 6150 between 8.30am and 5.30pm on weekdays or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Arrangements will be made for a Benevolence Visitor to visit you to complete the application form on your behalf.
All information will remain strictly confidential.
For those members who have accumulated large or unmanageable debts, the Benevolent Fund provides access to a money advice service through Payplan (new window). Payplan is a free and confidential debt advice company who can provide advice on difficulties with debt and how best to manage such situations.
Members should also seek to maximise their income by ensuring they are in receipt of any State benefits to which they are entitled. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (new window) to speak to an experienced advisor about your eligibility for State Benefits.
Helpful Information for Benevolence Visitors
It is of great importance that benevolence visitors have sight of all evidence of income and expenditure of the whole household when completing the benevolence application form. It is expected that all visits will be undertaken by trained benevolence visitors from the Local Association that the applicant is affiliated to; however, this is not always possible or practical. Visitors must be careful not to provide financial advice to members, and if visitors have any questions or queries regarding a visit that they have undertaken, the Legal and Casework Team will be happy to provide advice. Please note that applicants to the Fund should not complete their own application form.
For a current list of benevolence visitors’ training days, please contact the Equality and Training Team on 0121 453 6150.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust provides helpful and practical advice for benevolence visitors on personal safety when undertaking visits alone. For further information please follow the link below.
http://www.suzylamplugh.org/ (new window)
There are certain exceptions where the Fund cannot provide financial assistance to members:
- Where an applicant has in excess of £5000 in savings
- To assist with legal fees
- To assist with private medical/dental care
- To assist with private school fees, education courses or house purchase
- To repay borrowed money from a relative/friend
- To assist with the repayment of a student loan or to assist students with general living expenses
Types of Assistance Available
- Monthly grant of £86
- Education grant for children of school age (£125 for those aged 16 and under and £150 for those 17 and over)
- Holiday grant of £200 for the member and adult (18+) dependants. £125 for dependant children under the age of 18.
- Convalescence grant of £500
- Cost of living grants
- Grants to be paid direct where possible and where there is a specific need (i.e. cooker, council tax arrears etc)
- Interest-free loans (only to be issued when applicant has the ability to repay)
- Money advice (Payplan)
Alternative Sources of Support and Advice for Members
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can provide advice on entitlement to State Benefits. To locate your nearest CAB, look in your local Yellow Pages or go to Citizens Advice Bureau (new window) to use the CAB directory. The Department for Work and Pensions website at www.dwp.gov.uk (new window) can provide useful information on State Benefits and eligibility criteria. The Benefits Enquiry Line, 0800 882200, may also prove to be of assistance.
Payplan offers free, confidential money advice and professional debt management. Payplan have trained money advisors and will contact the member by telephone to discuss their circumstances and offer advice on dealing with their financial situation. A summary of the advice given will be submitted to the Legal and Casework Team who will then give the applicant’s benevolence case further consideration.
Alternatively, if urgent money advice is required, Payplan can be contacted directly on 0800 716 239. This service is available to anyone.
Teacher Support Network is an independent charity and can provide counselling and financial assistance to all teachers. Teacher Support Network can be contacted on 08000 562 561 or if you live in Wales on 08000 855 088.
http://teachersupport.info/ (new window)
Turn2us is an independent charity that signposts people to types of financial assistance (i.e. grants and welfare benefits) that they may be entitled to. To access this free service follow the link below.
www.turn2us.org.uk (new window)
The Elizabeth Finn Care may also be able to offer financial assistance for people who find themselves in financial difficulties. To find out more, please follow the link below.
www.elizabethfinncare.org.uk (new window)
Local Associations and Benevolent Federations can provide limited immediate assistance to applicants in financial hardship by providing a cheque or cash. This grant should not be issued as a matter of course but specifically for when members are in desperate hardship (i.e. as money for food).
The visitor recommendation section of the benevolence application form remains an important tool when assessing individual applications. However, these are only suggestions and will not be solely relied upon when reaching a decision. Interest-free benevolent loans will only be offered to members who have the capacity to repay, as loans are not always an effective solution for relieving financial hardship. Loans are only issued by the Legal and Casework Team, who will draw up a legally binding contract before issuing any monies. Repayment terms will be agreed before monies are issued. However, repayment terms may vary when members’ individual circumstances improve so that loans can be recouped at the earliest opportunity. As a charity, the Benevolent Fund relies upon the compliance of loan recipients in ensuring that loans are repaid as soon as possible.
There are seven Benevolent Federations operating within the UK and further Federations are currently under construction. The purpose of a Federation is to offer geographically even coverage of benevolence visitors and support throughout the country, therefore providing a more effective service for members. Benevolent Federations provide a vital link to vulnerable members who may require assistance when completing the relevant paperwork.
Benevolent Federations have the authority to issue a grant of up to £500 for members in hardship (an additional £300 compared to Local Associations). An application form will need to be completed before the additional £300 non-repayable grant can be issued to the member. All such completed applications must be forwarded to the Legal and Casework Team to be kept in the central filing system and a copy should also be kept locally. However, if the assistance required by the member exceeds £500 it will be necessary for the benevolence application to be forwarded to the Legal and Casework Team for further consideration. Federations are requested to confirm whether the application requires further assessment or whether it can simply be filed.
Profile of a Benevolence Visitor – David Cornwall (Former Chair of the Central Benevolent Committee)
Before any help can be offered to a member in hardship, an application form needs to be completed. Unlike many benevolent organisations, the NASUWT Benevolent Fund requires the form to be completed by a Benevolent Visitor during a meeting that usually takes place in the member’s home.
Completing the form is straightforward – there are sections on:
- the member’s personal details;
- their income;
- their expenditure;
- a summary of why they are in hardship; and
- a recommendation from the Benevolent Visitor.
Benevolent visits are usually requested by Local Association Secretaries or by the Legal and Casework Team at Rednal. After initial contact, an appointment is made for the visit and the member is advised of the documents and information that will be needed to complete the form. During the visit, the Benevolent Visitor will collect all the relevant information to complete the form and will also gain an understanding of the reasons for the member’s difficulties. The application form is completed by the Visitor and not by the member. Most visits take between an hour and an hour and a half.
Visitors are given an amount of confidential information and, apart from passing it on to the Legal and Casework Team, this must be kept confidential.
After the visit, the recommendation section of the form is completed by the Visitor using the guidelines in the Benevolence Handbook and then the form is sent to the Legal and Casework Team for action.
Being a Benevolent Visitor is a rewarding experience; most cases benefit from speedy support and you can see the difference that Union support makes.
Training is available in many Regional Centres and at Rednal – details are on the website and in the training handbook.
Extract of thank you letter
“I am writing to thank you once again for the amazing help and support that you have given me over the past few months – my family and myself simply could not have survived or coped without your help.”