Green Room News

The Asda Colleague Hardship Fund

The Colleague Hardship Fund was launched in 2010 and has supported colleagues who have found themselves in significant financial hardship.

Asda Foundation

Read about the Fund and find out when and how it can provide assistance:

Colleague Hardship Fund

Asda Foundation’s Colleague Hardship Fund has been set up to support Asda Colleagues (including current, retired or those who have left for reasons of ill health/sickness) and their immediate* family members who find themselves in significant financial hardship or at serious risk of becoming in significant financial hardship. This is a new fund which will be available to Asda colleagues from May 2010 above and beyond the other support which is available from the Asda Foundation.

*Family Member is defined as: parent, brother, sister, daughter, son, husband, wife, civil partner, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in- law, step parents, stepchild, grandparent, and grandchild.

Colleagues can apply for funding from the Hardship Fund by downloading and completing the attached form and submitting it in accordance with the guidelines set out in this document. Please check that you meet the criteria set out below before submitting a form.

Can I Apply for Funding – Criteria

The Colleague Hardship Fund is intended to help Asda colleagues who are in significant financial hardship or at serious risk of becoming in significant financial hardship. You should only apply for funding from the Colleague Hardship Fund if one of these criteria applies to your current situation.

Before applying to the Colleague Hardship Fund, you must have considered your other options and where appropriate made use of the available relevant contacts detailed below (“Helplines and Organisations”) as well as sought support from your People Manager/Line Manager.

The Colleague Hardship Fund is a discretionary fund and the trustees of the Asda Foundation have the final decision as to who may receive a payment.

Please note that if you make any seriously misleading statements (whether deliberate or accidental) at any stage during the application process, or if you knowingly withhold any information, this could make your application invalid and you could be liable to repay any funds.

Examples of when the Colleague Hardship Fund could help

Below are examples of the type of situations that could give rise to financial needs that may be eligible for funding from the Colleague Hardship Fund. These are intended as a guide and are not exhaustive:

1. Colleague or family member with a serious/terminal illness therefore being unable to work for a long period of time resulting in financial difficulties.

  • For Example: A Colleague is diagnosed with cancer and is not receiving sick pay or any other financial benefits and needs additional funds to support themselves and their family.

2. Travel expenses which are unaffordable to visit a seriously ill family member in the United Kingdom.

  • For Example: A Colleague’s son/daughter is receiving cancer treatment at a hospital and has considerable distance to travel to the hospital and the family are finding it hard to cover the costs for travel expenses and accommodation whilst also paying for the normal day to day living expenses.

3. A Colleague’s home is damaged due to a natural disaster (such as floods / fire) or unforeseen circumstances and is struggling to meet uninsured costs of establishing or re-establishing a habitable and safe residence.

  • For Example: Due to the local floods, a Colleague has no home, clothes, food etc. and is unable or struggling to afford to buy replacement items or cover the cost of temporary accommodation.

4. Colleague or family member passed away leaving the family struggling to pay the total cost the Colleague Hardship Fund will support to a maximum of £500 after you have looked at other areas of support (set out below “Helplines and Organisations”)

5. If you find yourself in significant debt and are unable to pay your mortgage or rent you must first contact your mortgage provider and landlord to firstly review your monthly payments and all other ways they can support. Other areas of government support are (set out below “Helplines and Organisations”)

Asda Foundation – Additional top up funds already available

Currently, Asda colleagues can apply to the Asda Foundation for additional discretionary funding in situations, where a colleague is raising funds for another colleague or their immediate family who are seriously ill, or are in need of financial support and wish the Asda Foundation to match or top up the money raised by Colleagues. This additional funding is totally separate from the Colleague Hardship Fund and will still be available to colleagues.

To find out more and how you can apply to the Asda Foundation when fundraising for a colleague please log onto: WIRE – Company – Community Life/Asda Foundation – Colleague Hardship Fund Guidelines

  • For Example: A member of your colleague’s immediate family is terminally ill and you are raising funds to send the colleague and their family on their last holiday together. It would be possible for a colleague to apply to the Asda Foundation for additional funding to match or top up the colleague fundraising. However, it would not be appropriate to apply to the Colleague Hardship Fund to pay for the cost of the holiday because the money would not be used for the relief of financial hardship.

Exceptions to the full application process

If you are in immediate need of significant financial support please ask your People Manager/Line Manager to email Julie Ward with full details of your situation. Julie will consider the application as quickly as possible and, where appropriate, will make an accelerated decision on your application. Julie is authorised in exceptional circumstances to sign off these applications immediately.

  • For Example: You have been advised your parent has only a few days to live and you need the funds to travel the distance to see them.

Exclusions – what the Colleague Hardship Fund cannot be used for

The list of exclusions below is used as a guide of what the Colleague Hardship Fund can not be used for and is not intended to be comprehensive. Funding from the Colleague Hardship Fund will not be available for things such as:

  • Luxury items or expenses (e.g. family holidays)
  • Routine living expenses
  • Reduced income due to a variance in your scheduled hours
  • Other personal debts such as income tax, child support, credit and debit card, tuition etc
  • Loss of or damage to your personal property that does not impact your safety, housing and ability to meet your monthly expenses
  • Financial assistance that you are not obligated to repay
  • Elective services (e.g. cosmetic procedures, fertility treatments)
  • Payment of traffic or other related fines

Colleague Hardship Fund – Application Process

  • All applications to the Hardship Fund should be sent to Julie Ward, Asda Foundation Manager at Asda House
  • Please speak to your People Manager about making an application to the Hardship Fund if you are currently employed by Asda or have an immediate family member who wishes to make an application. You will need to print the attached form and complete it by hand. If you require assistance in completing the form, please speak to your People Manager who will assist you.
  • For those colleagues (or immediate family members of) who are retired or former colleagues who have left for reasons of ill health/sickness, you will need to print the attached form, complete it by hand and send your completed application directly to Julie Ward at Asda House.
  • For each application you must give a detailed breakdown of how and what the funds will support. Please provide as much detail as possible to support your application and the circumstances for which you are seeking help with.
  • It may help your application if you are able to provide a letter from an independent person (i.e. non-family member) such as your Line Manager, People Manager, bank manager or debt advisor) supporting your application and confirming your difficult financial situation.
  • For all applications the People Manager must be aware and write a letter of endorsement for the application.
  • Before making an application, you should have considered and where appropriate sought access to the other resources which are relevant to your situation (set out below “Helplines and Organisations”).
  • Your application must comply with the criteria set out in the “Can I Apply for Funding – Criteria” section above.
  • The amount being granted will be specific to each application.
  • Your application will firstly be reviewed by Julie Ward, Asda Foundation Manager, who will aim to review your application within 1 working day from receiving the application (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
  • If your application is approved by Julie Ward, it will be submitted to a final Sign off Committee which will consist of the following people:
    – Foundation Chair or Deputy Chair
    – A minimum of 2 Trustee’s (one of which will be an independent trustee)
    They will aim to make their decision within 2 working days of receiving the application (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
  • Two of the Asda Foundation Independent Trustee’s will make the ultimate decision on your application and their decision will be final.
  • In exceptional circumstances (see “Exceptions” above), if colleagues need immediate support applications will be considered in less than 3 working days.
  • Your People Manager or Line Manager will be notified of the final decision.
  • If your application is unsuccessful a full written explanation will be given to you. We will aim to provide you with this written explanation within a working week of giving you a verbal decision.
  • With the exception of notifying your People Manager and/or Line Manager, all applications will be treated with confidentiality and will be logged and kept on file by the Asda Foundation for 7 years.

Payment

  • The payment will be paid by cheque and the cheques will be payable to the Colleague or family member that made the application. All cheques will be sent to the People Manager in stores/depots and to the Line Manager in Asda and George House for passing to the Colleague (or family member, where applicable).
  • The payment will be made from The Asda Foundation (Charity Number 112468).
  • All cheques will be logged and will be audited by the Asda Foundation’s accountants (currently Ernst & Young) at the end of the year in line with the rules applying to the Asda Foundation accounts.

Note to Colleagues who receive benefits

If you do receive funding from the Colleague Hardship Fund and are also claiming benefits such as Child Tax Credits – this may affect future claims and you would need to declare this to HM Revenue & Customs and/or the department for Work & Pensions.

Help Lines and Organisations

Asda has excellent links with organisations nationally and locally to support and give confidential advice for those Asda Colleagues who find themselves in difficult financial times. Please make sure you have spoken to your People Manger who will give you the relevant contacts which are part of your stores/depots ‘We Care for Colleagues’ brief, before applying to the Asda Foundation Colleague Hardship Fund.

Useful Numbers

Funeral Costs – if you are on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral you may be eligible to receive a funeral payment. Log onto www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/overview for more information and the application form.

Debt/Loans – the Government has ensured that help is available for people struggling to make debt repayments. Government legislation is in place to help anyone who is finding it difficult to meet their monthly debt repayments. Log onto: www.nationaldebtassistance.co.uk for more information and the application form.

Asda Colleague Helpline – Confidential Information and support

  • The service provides Asda colleagues with confidential information and support helpline, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  • The helpline includes a legal service, bereavement assistance, medical information and a stress counselling service
  • Calling the helpline will give you immediate access to qualified nursing personnel and over 40 lawyers covering legal, financial and administrative services
  • Calls are charged at national rate
  • Call 0800 3169337

For a full list of organisations and help lines who are independent of Asda which you can contact for support/advice in many areas can be either found in your Everyone Benefits Guide 2012 booklet or on the WIRE – Toolbox – Green Room – Online Benefits.

Queries

If you have any queries when completing the form please contact Julie Ward at Asda House on 0113 2417253.

Send your completed application form to Julie Ward, Asda Foundation, Asda House, Great Wilson Street, Southbank, Leeds, LS11 5AD.

Posted in Green Room News on 21 May 2013