FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

The basics

What is the British Red Cross Hardship Fund?

Who is the Hardship Fund for?

How does it work?

Eligibility and referral process

Who is eligible for the Hardship Fund?

Who is not eligible for the Hardship Fund?

Can people refer themselves to the Hardship Fund?

What is a Referral Partner?

Who are the Referral Partners?

How do you become a Referral Partner?

I am a referral partner, how do I register someone for cash assistance?

What happens after I register someone?

What if I don’t fit the criteria?

The payments

How much cash are you giving people and families?

How long will the money be available for?

Will receiving a Hardship Fund grant affect statutory benefit applications, such as Universal Credit?

How have you calculated the £120 per month? Is it enough?

How many people/households do you think could qualify for this hardship fund?

Can people have more or less depending on the size of their household?

What happens if people refuse the money?

Why cash?

How will you prevent fraud?

Aviva and the funding

Who is paying for the Hardship Fund?

Is this being funded solely by Aviva or do you expect additional funds?

What happens when the money runs out, but people are still in need?

Will Aviva have a say who gets the money?

Will Aviva customers benefit?

The Hardship Fund and other financial support

Will this replace statutory support?

Will those who are working or receiving statutory support already be eligible for the Hardship Fund?

What other support is on offer if I’m not eligible for the Fund?

Answers

The basics

What is the British Red Cross Hardship Fund?

As part of its response to the coronavirus outbreak, The British Red Cross, in partnership with Aviva and the Aviva Foundation*, has created the Hardship Fund to provide financial support to individuals who were already financially at risk before the coronavirus outbreak and, whose financial situation has deteriorated due to the crisis.  

The Hardship Fund will provide cash grants of £120 a month for up to three months to help them immediately meet their essential living costs. Families with children or other dependents can apply for up to three separate grants per month.

The British Red Cross aims to support 13,000 individuals via the Hardship Fund. Its front-line staff and volunteers, as well as government and volunteer partners, will identify potential beneficiaries for referral to the fund.

The British Red Cross Hardship Fund beneficiaries will include individuals who lack recognised legal status, people with no or in temporary accommodation, families living below the poverty line, those facing domestic or sexual and gender-based violence, and people with no access to stable income sources.

* The Aviva Foundation is administered by Charities Trust under charity registration number 327489.

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Who is the Hardship Fund for?

Beneficiaries of the Hardship Fund will be selected via a community-based referral system.

The British Red Cross aims to support 13,000 individuals via the Hardship Fund.

Working in partnership with government and volunteer partners, the British Red Cross will identify individuals whose financial situation has deteriorated as a result of the crisis. 

This will include:

  • People who lack recognised legal status
  • People with no or in temporary accommodation
  • Families living below the poverty line
  • People facing domestic or sexual and gender-based violence
  • People with no access to stable income sources

Individuals will not be able to self-refer to the Hardship Fund.

To be eligible for the Hardship Fund, individuals must not receive the following forms of income:

  • Paid employment of any kind
  • A pension
  • Statutory support including Universal Credit, Asylum Support or any state funded support, voluntary sector grants or financial help
  • Ongoing financial help from family or friends
  • Significant income from savings

Support from the fund is not intended to replace statutory support. The Referral Partners are best placed to know if support from the fund would impact eligibility to statutory support, and therefore will not recommend that individual.

To minimise any risk of this support affecting statutory eligibility, we have introduced the option of one-off £120 payments (rather than three months).

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How does it work?

Voluntary and statutory partners, specifically local authorities, and British Red Cross front-line staff across the UK will refer people to the Hardship Fund.

These partners will  confirm whether an identified individual is eligible for support, checking against the criteria.

If they meet the criteria established by the British Red Cross, they will be eligible for up to 12 weeks of support.  

The British Red Cross is working with referral partners who meet a certain standard as an organisation, including having their own due diligence processes around who they engage with. British Red Cross and each partner will agree a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to set out what is expected of one another.

When making a referral the caseworker shares their name, role, contact details and confirms that the person being referred meets the criteria.

British Red Cross and the partner will review a random sample of referrals together to check they meet the criteria. 

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Eligibility and the referral process

Who is eligible for the Hardship Fund?

We can help vulnerable individuals and households who have no access to income, savings, or financial support, including:

  • People with No Recourse to Public Funds
  • People aged 70 or older
  • People who have had disruption or delays to welfare benefits
  • Households who have lost their primary earner to coronavirus
  • Survivors of gender-based violence, including domestic abuse
  • People facing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation

Eligibility criteria may be updated as the Hardship Fund develops so we can continue to help the people in greatest need.

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Who is not eligible for the Hardship Fund?

We cannot help people who have any of the following forms of income:

  • Paid employment of any kind
  • Pension
  • Statutory support including Universal Credit, Asylum Support or any other state funded support
  • Voluntary sector grants or financial help
  • Financial help from family or friends
  • Income from savings

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Can people refer themselves to the Hardship Fund?

People cannot self-refer to the Hardship Fund.

The British Red Cross will use frontline staff and volunteers, as well as statutory and voluntary partners to identify people to refer to the fund with the aim of supporting as many of the referrals as possible.

If you’re worried, lonely or if you can’t access essential supplies, you can call the British Red Cross support line on 0808 196 3651, which is open 10am – 6pm every day.

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What is a Referral Partner?

Referral Partner organisations can register people with the Hardship Fund to receive a cash grant.  

A Referral Partner is an organisation working directly with people who are financially impacted by the coronavirus. 

All Referral Partners are chosen by the Red Cross and must agree to all the terms and conditions.

We carefully manage the number and type of organisations we partner with to ensure we target our funds effectively.

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Who are the Referral Partners?

We are working with selected statutory and voluntary partners to identify people eligible for the Hardship Fund.

 These partner organisations can register people for cash assistance using this website.

Partners include Local Authorities, charities, and other groups working with vulnerable people.  

Frontline British Red Cross staff can also refer people to the Hardship Fund.

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How do you become a Referral Partner?

Referral Partners are selected by the British Red Cross.

All Referral Partner organisations must be able to answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:

  • Are you able to refer people who meet Hardship Fund criteria? 
  • Do you work directly with the people you are referring? 
  • Are you willing to partner with British Red Cross and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to define this relationship? 
  • Are you able to capture and act on feedback from the people you are referring? 
  • Will you be able to provide reports about referrals and service use? 
  • Do you collect and store people’s personal data in compliance with GDPR? 
  • Do you have procedures for reporting and investigating safeguarding concerns? 
  • Do you have procedures for reporting and investigating fraud

To clarify the roles and expectations of Referral Partners we ask that your organisation signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The British Red Cross.

To ensure we protect the personal data of the individuals being referred we ask that you sign a data sharing agreement with The British Red Cross.

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I am a Referral Partner, how do I register someone for cash assistance?

Full details are on the Make a Referral page.

You must log in to our Red Rose platform and complete a referral form with your beneficiary’s details.

You will need to add the following information (mandatory fields are marked with an asterix*):

  • Title and name* – e.g. Mrs Jane Smith
  • Date of birth*
  • Gender
  • Address and postcode* – this is where the bank card will be posted
  • Mobile phone number – this can be used to automatically activate the bank card if provided
  • Telephone
  • Email – adding this allows the beneficiary to manage their card online
  • Number of dependants*
  • Reason for referral*
  • The name of the referral organisation*
  • Your own name*

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What happens after I register someone?

Once a Referral Partner registers someone with the Hardship Fund, our Card Operations Team will process the application.

A Bankable pre-paid cash card will be posted to the address you supply. Once the card arrives the user must activate it. They can do this by sending a text or calling a freephone numbers – full details are included with the card.

We will then ‘switch the card on’ so they can start spending the money. The balance will be £120.

If you have registered someone for a three month grant, after 4 weeks the card will be topped up with £120. A final £120 will be added to the card 4 weeks later.

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What if I don’t fit the criteria?

If a referral does not meet the criteria, they will be signposted by the British Red Cross to services either within the British Red Cross, or with a partner agency, to support them with their needs.  

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The payments

How much cash are you giving people and families?

You can request a one-off payment of £120 or a three month grant.

People who register for the three month grant will receive £360, paid in monthly instalments of £120 each.

Families with children or other dependants can apply for up to three grants, for a maximum total of £1,080 over the three months.

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How long will the money be available for?

The money will stay on the card for 14 weeks after the card is activated.

At that point any money still on the card will be returned to the British Red Cross and reallocated to someone else registered with the Hardship Fund.

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Will receiving a Hardship Fund grant affect statutory benefit applications, such as Universal Credit?

The support will be limited and short term; providing a safety net for the most vulnerable at the point of need and is not designed to replace, replicate or substitute statutory support.

This is not an alternative but rather a complement to statutory and voluntary support and will provide a bridge for people whilst those services are established. 

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How have you calculated the £120 per month? Is it enough?

This was calculated by the British Red Cross using the Office of National Statistics data for 2019 combined with the average household spend in the UK.

It is based on the cost of food and communications i.e. internet access and mobile phone bills. Communication costs were considered especially important during lockdown.

While these were the items considered by the British Red Cross in the calculation, the money can of course be spent on anything the user chooses.

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How many people/households do you think could qualify for this hardship fund?

It’s very difficult to put a number on how many people could qualify, our aim is to reach those most in need and who have been financially impacted as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

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Can people have more or less depending on the size of their household?

The £120 grant is the amount per person per month.

A household of more people will receive more cards up to a maximum of three cards:

  • One person household = one card, with £120 per month
  • Two person household = two cards, each with £120 per month
  • Three person household = three cards
  • Four person household + = three cards

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What happens if people refuse the money?

People can choose not to accept the money. 

Cash support is intended to empower people with greater choice and dignity, this of course extends to people’s freedom to choose not to accept support. 

No funds are transferred until the user activates the card and thus accepts support.

To make sure financial support is needed and wanted we are working through referral partners who are engaging with people through a casework approach.

As such the support should be well targeted to those likely to accept the support. 

Depending on the needs of the individual, we may signpost to other British Red Cross services. 

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Why cash?

At the British Red Cross, we strive to meet the needs of people in the most effective and efficient way possible

Cash assistance is powerful because the needs of each household are unique. Being given the choice of what to purchase makes sense and plays a vital role in preserving people’s dignity.

Cash distributions also allow us to get to people quickly. It helps people get back on their feet and make them more resilient to future disasters.

If you have more questions about how and why we use cash in emergencies, please visit our Cash Hub website FAQs (opens in new tab).

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How will you prevent fraud?

The risks of cash as aid have been extensively studied and there is little evidence to suggest that fraud is greater in cash transfers than other forms of aid.

All humanitarian programming, involving cash or not, is susceptible to a certain amount of risk.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement takes great care to monitor cash distributions and will only do so when it is the most efficient and effective way of helping people in crisis.  

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Aviva and the funding

Who is paying for the Hardship Fund?

Since 2016, Aviva and the British Red Cross have worked in partnership to build stronger, more resilient communities in the UK and around the world amidst crises.

At the outset of the coronavirus outbreak, Aviva and the Aviva Foundation* committed a significant additional donation of £10 million to the British Red Cross to support individuals and communities most at-risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

Five million pounds of this has been allocated to the Hardship Fund.

* The Aviva Foundation is administered by Charities Trust under charity registration number 327489.

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Is this being funded solely by Aviva or do you expect additional funds?

Aviva and the Aviva Foundation* are the primary donors to the fund, but other smaller contributions have been made from other organisations.

Aviva are the seed funder and without their donation of £5 million the fund would not have been possible.

As this is a newly created fund, we will assess the need and reach throughout to understand how we can best identify unmet need as a result of coronavirus.

* The Aviva Foundation is administered by Charities Trust under charity registration number 327489.

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What happens when the money runs out, but people are still in need?

The British Red Cross is constantly assessing needs in the community and seeking ways to meet them, whether through service delivery, advocacy or fundraising.

Coronavirus is no different and we will continue to make sure we are able to reach those most in need over the coming weeks and months.

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Will Aviva have a say who gets the money?

No, The British Red Cross has assessed the areas of greatest need and decided that financial assistance should be offered to those experiencing hardship as a result of coronavirus and with no other source of financial support.

The British Red Cross is identifying individuals in need of the financial assistance through Referral Partners.

These partners are best placed to identify individuals as they are working directly in the community.

Selection of the Referral Partners is done by regional British Red Cross operation teams.

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Will Aviva customers benefit?

Aviva is a Hardship Fund referral partner and will work with its Vulnerable Customers teams to ensure we are referring eligible customers to benefit from the Fund.

Aviva customers will be required to meet the eligibility criteria outlined for the Fund, which supports vulnerable individuals and households who have no access to income, savings, or financial support, including:

  • People with no recourse to public funds
  • People aged 70 or older
  • People who have had disruption or delays to welfare benefits
  • Households who have lost their primary earner to coronavirus
  • Survivors of domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence
  • People facing homelessness or living in temporary accommodation

Eligibility criteria may be updated as the Hardship Fund develops so we can continue to help the people in greatest need.

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The Hardship Fund and other financial support

Will this replace statutory support? 

Support from the fund is not intended to replace statutory support.

The support will be limited and short term, providing a safety net for the most vulnerable at the point of need, and is not designed to replace, replicate or substitute statutory support.

This is not an alternative but rather a complement to statutory and voluntary support and will provide a bridge for people whilst those services are established. 

The Referral Partners are best placed to know if support from the fund would impact eligibility to statutory support, and therefore will not recommend that individual.

To minimise that risk, we have introduced the option of one-off £120 payments (rather than three months) as this is less likely to affect someone’s eligibility for statutory support.

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How does the Hardship Fund work with the Destitution and Disasters Fund? 

The Hardship Fund is available for people directly impacted by coronavirus and therefore is a complement but not a duplicate of the Destitution and Disasters Funds that British Red Cross runs.

Effort has been made to ensure the funds can be used in complementary but distinct ways to best support vulnerable people. 

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Will those who are working or receiving statutory support already be eligible for the Hardship Fund? 

No, anyone already receiving support from statutory or voluntary services to cover their basic needs and anyone who is working, has existing benefits that remain or otherwise has the means to meet their basic needs will not be eligible for the Hardship Fund.  

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What other support is on offer if I’m not eligible for the Fund?

The British Red Cross has set up a new support line, which is open 10am – 6pm every day.

We recommend you call this line on 0808 196 3651 if you’re worried, lonely or if you can’t access essential supplies.

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