An emergency fund can help those in need, especially if they are dependent on public funding.
A family who is homeless, for example, may need help with accommodation or support for children.
But it’s vital that emergency fund arrangements are made in advance to ensure everyone has the best chance of surviving the winter.
The Fund for Homelessness and Emergency (FFE) is a government-funded scheme for homeless people, designed to provide them with a minimum of $15,000 a year.
“You have to be ready to spend it,” says Joanna Poulter, the FFE’s deputy chairperson.
“It’s just like having a rainy day fund, so you have to put money into the fund, make sure you have money in your emergency fund, then you have the ability to put it back.”
What is a fund?
A fund is a financial asset that is held in a person’s name.
It can be a pension, a tax-free savings account or an asset like a property.
In the UK, a family with an annual income of $50,000 or more can apply to the fund to help them pay for rent, food and other basic needs.
This is known as a family allowance.
“There are two types of fund,” says Poulters.
“The first is a basic fund, where you can get the basic expenses that you can’t pay for.”
Then there’s a special fund, which is designed for the disabled and elderly.
There are other forms of financial support available, too.
Some forms of assistance can be tax-deductible, and if you don’t qualify for any other forms, there’s an option for you to be eligible for the maximum benefit.
A single person who lives in a flat with an income of about $100,000 can qualify for a non-refundable basic allowance of $2,500.
If you’re eligible for any of these benefits, you’ll get a cheque to send to the bank to be paid by the bank on your behalf.
Where can you apply?
If you need help, or are on a low income, you can apply for an emergency account to be used for your expenses in the event of an emergency.
In 2018, the Government started requiring that all people applying for a family benefit application get a fund in place in advance, which can be done by calling a helpline.
This can include a helptanker who will contact your local Homelessness Helpline, the local Homeless Support Service or the local social housing agency.
If a person is applying for an account, they’ll need to pay a fee of $5.50.
The money is held by the FFFE, which helps to cover costs associated with the fund.
“Once you apply, you’re going to get a document that says you’re applying for the fund,” Poults says.
“That’s your first step.
You can then make a payment in cash or by cheque, but if you’re using an automated cheque system, that’s when you make sure to use a chequebook.”
The money will then go into the account for you, and you can withdraw money from it at any time.
There is also a maximum amount you can earn per month.
But you have two ways to earn money from the fund: make payments on time, or pay in cash.
Paying in cash means you’ll have to show that you’ve been paying bills or made payments for a while.
“If you’re paying a bill, that means that you haven’t been in the habit of paying for the past couple of months, and that’s a good sign,” Poulsters says.
There’s no limit to how much you can make.
“People can’t earn as much as they want from the FAFE,” Pulser says.
What can I do if I don’t have money?
Poulsts recommends people check with their local social welfare office for information about how to get help.
In some cases, a social worker or a local homeless services provider may be able to help, depending on how long the person has been homeless.
If it’s not clear whether you’re able to apply for a fund, there are options for you.
“In the event that someone has not been paying their rent for three months, you could ask for a financial assistance order or a non financial assistance notice,” Poulters says.
You could also apply for money from a local social services provider, who will tell you about options and how to apply.
In addition, you may be eligible to get money from your council, which will be able make a claim to the FFAE, if you are in receipt of the maximum payment.
“We have been doing this for over a decade,” Pouters says, “so it’s really important that we continue to make sure that we’re providing the best support for the homeless and the homeless people.”
Is there a waiting list? There