The Branch provides
a variety of welfare information leaflets and practical advice, we also
offer a counselling service.
We provide welfare Grants (see below) for various items within a framework as recommended by the national centre.
We also operate the ‘Tuesday Drop in’.
Our funds are
mainly spent within the local community
care, therapy and assistance to our beneficiaries and their families -
also supporting and encouraging all people affected by multiple sclerosis,
to attain their full potential as members of society by improving their
conditions of life.
Our Welfare Number is 07522 774604
Welfare grants procedures at the local level
For many people with MS, there will come a time when they need to purchase a piece of equipment or pay for adaptations to their home as a result of their disability, but will not have the necessary funds to do so.
Some needs can be met by statutory provision but it is a fact of life that equipments or funds will not necessarily be available. Eligibility criteria are tightening as a result of budget cuts within statutory authorities, and fewer people are being offered help.
The MS Society and its branches have always aimed to help people with MS with items they need because of their disability but for which they cannot get statutory help. Items funded included home adaptations, powered wheelchairs, communication equipment, riser/recliner chairs, mobility and special equipment.
Branch Welfare Officers and volunteers, along with the Grants Team, play a role in providing information on the help that we can provide as well as ensuring that any applications which are received, are dealt with appropriately and effectively.
Branches and the National Centre
are required by the Society’s constitution to assist anyone with
MS and our funds are therefore open to non-members as well as members.
Whilst all applications will be considered initially by the relevant local
branch, funding may sometimes be available from the National Welfare Grants
THE APPLICATION FORM
Anyone who wishes to apply to the branch for a grant. Must complete one of the Society’s standard application forms these are available from the Branch welfare Team.
As well as seeking specific information to assist the branch in considering the application, the form also contains sections that aim to identify other possible sources of funding. For these reasons, the following paragraphs look at different parts of the form in detail.
Confirmation of diagnosis
Must be completed
Income and expenditure details
The Branch will endeavour to ensure that the Society’s funds are directed at those most in need, both in terms of their need for the items being applied for and their ability to pay for them, either from their own resources of from other sources.
Support from Occupational Therapists
A letter of support from an Occupational Therapist should be sought, confirming the need, and the suitability, of the item requested as well as the lack of statutory funding available for the item.
In relation to wheelchairs and scooters, an assessment must be made at one of the mobility centres around the country or by an Occupational Therapist.
Assessments can be arranged at the British Red Cross Society Disabled Living Centre, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester. Telephone 0116-2700515
Quotes for building work
Two quotes must be obtained. If someone is applying for help with their contribution to a Disabled Facilities Grant, a number of quotes will have been required as part of this process already. Applicants must seek quotes from reputable builders; Home Improvements Agencies (part of the Care and Repair network of groups) may be able to help with applications relating to home adaptations, including seeking quotes, although some groups work only with elderly people.
Other charitable sources of help
All other charitable sources will be investigated and details of past occupations will be taken into account when identifying occupational charities that can be approached.
Circumstances of applicants
The individual’s circumstances e.g. The size of his or her family, age, level of disability, and the location in which he or she lives will all have a bearing on the decision of the branch.
Applications will be dealt with confidentially, making it less daunting for individuals to apply.
Confidentiality will be observed from the initial point of contact.
The Branch policy is that retrospective grants will not be considered mirroring the MS Services Committee policy that such grants should not be made. If an applicant is able to purchase an item from his or her own resources then reimbursement is not usually justifiable.
If someone has a debt it may
be advisable for him or her to be referred to the National Debt-line before
making a decision. The telephone number is 0645 500 511 (local rate).
If someone is applying for help with a debt due to money management difficulties,
it is the MS Services Committee’s policy that they seek advice from
a debt advice agency such as a Citizens’ Advice Bureau before a
grant can be considered. The agency will be helpful in advising on maximising
income i.e. Checking benefit entitlement and also on prioritising debts.
They can also help with dealing with creditors.
Leicester Branch will operate within this policy.
AFTER DECISIONS HAVE BEEN MADE
Informing applicants of decisions
Branch policy is that all decisions will be notified in writing to the applicant.
Nobody has an absolute right to a charitable grant. Appeals against refusals of help are not dealt with in the same way as those for statutory benefits.
Payment of grants
Grants will not be paid to the applicant. Grants will be paid by cheque directly to the supplier or manufacturer in all cases.
It is particularly
important that eligibility for, and the availability of, statutory funding
is investigated by the branch.
This requirement is complicated by the fact that Social Services Departments are clearly interpreting the duties that they have in different ways. Further information on the duties of statutory authorities is available from the Grants Team.
Two examples of items for which there is statutory provision are home adaptations and wheelchairs. Where someone requires home adaptations it is the duty of the local authority social services department to arrange for the provision of these. An Occupational Therapist will need to carry out an assessment, as funding may be available through the Disabled Facilities Grant system operated by the local Housing Department. Please refer to the Information Sheet entitled ‘Housing Grants’ (available from the Grants Team) which gives more details.
Wheelchairs, both manual and indoor/outdoor powered models can be provided by the NHS. The local NHS Wheelchair Service should always be contacted to check availability and it may also be possible to obtain advice on assessments and suitable models.
Criteria for applying to the National Welfare Grants Fund
The applicant’s GP, Physiotherapist, Social Worker or Occupational Therapist will be able to make a referral.
The present criteria are as
1. All grants must be for the benefit of persons with MS, for an item needed as a direct result of their MS.
2. No long-term financial commitments can be entered into by the Society. It follows that top-up grants for residential care or other such requests cannot be considered.
3. All applications must be supported by written evidence of an assessment of need and suitability of the item requested from an Occupational Therapist, social worker etc. and a quote to confirm the cost of the item.
4. Applications from individuals with savings above £15,000 will not be considered. Applicants with savings above £8,000 will need to justify why they are not able to meet the cost of the item requested themselves.
5. A person with MS is limited to applying to the National Welfare Grants Fund once every two years, unless the application relates to respite care.
6. Grants cannot be given for medical equipment, i.e. pressure relief mattresses, treatment - conventional or complementary, legal costs, or insurance.
7. We cannot give help in instances where an item has already been purchased or ordered.
8. The following can be considered for financial assistance.
Essential home repairs
Specialist computers not PC
Special needs vehicles
Furnishings and domestic appliances
Educational and therapeutic grants
Respite care - branch policy £100.00 per year.
Respite care applications
The Society has two application forms:
(1) A white form for use with general welfare assistance and respite care at non-Society centres, and
yellow form for use with grants for respite care at the Society’s
Centres (Brambles, Helen Ley, and Woodlands).
It is important that the correct form is used from the outset as applications submitted on the wrong form will be returned to the originator (see the section on respite care below).
Local Authority Social Services Departments have a responsibility for assessing individuals requiring respite care and for arranging for its provision - in the same way as for long-term residential and nursing care. A grant cannot be considered unless the Social Services Department has been approached first.
The Welfare Liaison Advisers at Brambles, Helen Ley House and Woodlands have been given the specific task of negotiating with statutory authorities on the funding of guests’ stays.
It is important to note that whilst applications to Social Services can be made, it is vital that the relevant Welfare Liaison Adviser knows of all approaches to the statutory authorities, to avoid duplication of effort or misunderstanding with the departments concerned.
Care is taken to ensure that supporting information is collected before decisions are made and that the request is not for an item for which there is a statutory duty to provide funding. Quotes and estimates are also obtained.
Grants consideration meetings
The Grants Team holds meetings on a monthly basis for initial consideration.
Due to the quantity of applications and to ensure expenditure is kept within budget, a prioritising system, approved by the MS Services Committee, is used when considering each request. The priorities are:
1. To facilitate independence
2. To enhance quality of life
3. To prevent crises
Highest priority is when a request meets all three of these categories and lowest is where it partially only meets one.
Other sources of funding
Before considering a grant, funding from other sources must be taken into account. The Society’s policy is to identify other possible sources of funding where appropriate. This information is supplied to Branch Welfare Officers as required. It is also passed on to individuals whose applications have been declined.
Branches are encouraged to look into other sources of funding.
An appeals procedure was introduced in August 1996. Appeals against branch decisions must be dealt with by the branch concerned.
In most instances declined applications have the right to appeal. However, it is important to bear in mind that retrospective applications, where there is no justification for the late submission of the application, do not have this right of appeal.
Applicants wishing to appeal are instructed to write to the branch explaining their reasons for appealing, within 30 days of receipt of notification.
A confidentiality policy for the Society was introduced in September 1996 and is adhered to by the MS Services Committee and Grants staff. The Branch operates within this policy
How long does it normally take for a decision to be made?
It depends on whether we have sufficient information when we receive an application. It would be helpful to check that the following details are included before sending in an application:
A letter of support from an OT or other health professional
(2) Information of funds available
(3) A copy of a quote for the item
(4) Information that may be relevant to seeking other charitable funds
Some other charitable funds that we may approach only meet quarterly. Once all information is collated you will receive a decision usually within two weeks