If you are claiming JSA ( Job Seeker’s Allowance), then you may be able to claim up to £300 from a rarely publicised £23 million fund of which you will not have to pay back. It is designed for anything that will help you become more employable. Jobcentre plus Advisor shows you the simple steps you need to take to apply for an Advisor Discretion Fund (sometimes Advisor Discretionary Fund or Advisory Discretionary Fund).
The maximum you can apply for is £300 over a one year period. It can be used for items that will help you return to work and/or enable you to accept a job offer. An award must be linked to a specific job offer or job interview but it can not be used for ‘anything’. For example, you cant use an Advisor Discretion Fund payment for new computer software. It is intended for items such as clothing. ADF is to overcome small barriers that prevent a person from accepting a job offer or to attend a job interview (this is different to traval to interview costs – there is a different scheme for that). For example, clothes or travel to work costs until the first wage is received.
It is your advisor’s discretionary decision as to whether the expenditure would generally benefit the client’s pursuit for work, or, if already offered a job, to enable them to accept that offer.
Advisers consider requests and will treat each case on its own merit. Also, Job Seeker’s Allowance claimants are not automatically entitled to the grant.
You are eligible to apply for an Advisor Discretion Fund (ADF) as soon as you start claiming job seekers allowance in theory but the keyword about the advisor discretion fund is discretion. It is not possible to apply for ADF as it is offered at the adviser’s discretion within a narrow set of circumstances. Advisors will draw on the advisor discretion fund if there is a cost issue specific to making a good impression at an interview or which might prevent a person from accepting a job offer.
Advisor discretion funds do not have to be paid back but it is not a cash grant as no money exchanges hands. Advisor Discretion Funds (ADF) are awarded for specific items, for example ‘a smart shirt at £x.xx’. Where possible a customer is given an invoice payment form to take to a Jobcentre Plus contracted supplier to exchange for the goods. If this is not possible the Job Centre Plus will aim to reimburse the customer on production of a receipt. A customer is only paid directly in exceptional cases, and then they have to provide proof of purchase. However, once you reach stage 4 (unemployed for a year) you will not be able to apply for an advisor discretion grant. You can still get financial help (up to about £500) if you are on stage 4 but it comes via a different source.
To apply for an Advisor Discretion Fund, you need to arrange an appointment with your Jobcentre Plus advisor. This must be separate to your regular signing meet. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus here and search for your local office. The national Jobcentre Plus telephone number is 0800 055 6688. You can find out other information from this number including crisis loans, budgeting loans and cold weather payments.