Staff Top-Up Fund

The University recognises that there will be occasions when staff experience financial difficulty. Support may be available to you, whether you are facing a relatively small, discrete issue with your finances, or a major challenge to do with complex personal or domestic circumstances.

What is the University doing to help?

The University ‘Staff Top-Up Fund’ provides support to university staff, retired university staff members and the dependants of retired university staff members after their death who may require assistance with unexpected debt, whether caused by a temporary shortfall or increased expenditure. The Fund offers a safety net, providing relief to members of staff facing unexpected pressures.

Reasons for a top-up award may include:

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increased childcare costs that cannot be afforded, a spouse or partner being furloughed or losing their job, or self-employed household members being unable to work due to the pandemic;
  • Retired university staff members requiring assistance with nursing costs, or home aid equipment;
  • Staff requiring assistance to purchase specific items of equipment, cost of repair or refurbishment, the cost of debt, etc.

This is not an exhaustive list, and eligibility does not depend on the reason for the financial difficulty. However, it is important to clearly demonstrate the necessity for assistance in your application, as grants or loans will not be awarded where a financial shortfall cannot be demonstrated.

If your application is successful you may receive a grant from the fund or, occasionally, an interest-free loan which is recoverable from your salary in equal instalments over a period of approximately 12 months. 

How to apply for current University Staff Members

To apply for a top-up award, complete the application form. Please read through the information on the page, and click on “Apply Now” once you are happy to proceed. This process is confidential and you do not need to go through your line manager or other member of staff. Evidence of monthly expenditure and household income is not required. However, you should clearly set out the nature of the issue, including all relevant information in your application. Please attach any supporting documents, such as quotes for repair work, etc., to your application form. Decisions will be made by the Board of Management based on the information provided in the application form and supporting documents.

How to apply for retired University Staff Members

Please contact Julia Powles, Pensioner Welfare Officer, by emailing julia.powles@admin.ox.ac.uk, or by calling 01865 616203.

Financial advice and support

Whilst this Top-Up Fund is offered to try and help applicants who are about to suffer, or who have recently suffered, unexpected debt, you should keep in mind that it will not be able to meet all requests, and even if one grant is made it is unlikely to be repeated. Any loans made will also need to be repaid. The Fund, therefore, might not be able to resolve any longer term or wider financial problems. In these situations, applicants will be offered access to the University’s financial advice service via the Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme. In addition, all members of staff are encouraged to consider seeking financial help from alternative professional or debt advice charities.

The University is committed to ensuring that support is available for employees in times of need. Staff are encouraged to apply for a top-up award where this would alleviate a pressing financial burden.

The Government's money advice service can be found at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/taking-control-of-debt

For more information and support for staff related to coronavirus, please visit Covid-19 resources to support homeworking and wellbeing.

For more information about the staff counselling service, please visit the Employee counselling service | Occupational Health Service (ox.ac.uk).

Case studies

Below are some examples of the kind of top-up awards made. (Please note that every person’s circumstances are unique; you should not be put off applying because yours do not fit one of these examples.)

Case study 1

A retired University employee was left disabled and unable to bend their right leg due to a failed knee operation. As such, they rely heavily on various adaptations in the home to be able to live independently. This employee applied to the Fund after their bath chair – a motorised chair for getting in and out of the bath – broke. The Fund awarded a grant for the purchase of a new bath chair.

Case study 2

A current member of University staff was left with no heating or hot water, with a young child at home after their central heating system had broken down. The employee was unable to afford the necessary repairs. The Fund awarded a grant to help pay for the required repair work.

Case study 3

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a staff member’s partner was unable to work due to being a self-employed plumber and not being able to enter people’s homes during lockdown. This left the family with only one income, and whilst they were able to take a mortgage payment holiday and access other means of support, they still were not able to cover their monthly expenditure. The Fund awarded a grant to top-up their income and support the family during this difficult period.

For further information or advice about the fund, please contact stafftopup@admin.ox.ac.uk.