Scottish Welfare Fund

Scottish Local Authorities (councils) are responsible for administering the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Due to a series of ongoing welfare reforms to the benefits system, Social Fund Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants paid by the DWP have been abolished.

In their place is a discretionary scheme called the Scottish Welfare Fund which provides:

These are provided by payment card or kind and do not need to be paid back.

You can get detailed information about the Scottish Welfare Fund from the Scottish Government website.

How to apply

You must apply to the council where you live or intend to live (if you are leaving prison, hospital or residential care). The Scottish Government website has a list of contact details for each individual council.

If you live, or intend living in the Stirling Council area, you can apply by:

Apply online or by completing a Scottish Welfare Fund application You can also call 01786 233210

Short-term advances of benefit

In April 2013, the DWP became responsible for administering Short-term advances of benefit. Short-term benefit advances can be paid when you have made, or are about to make, a new claim for benefit and you have a financial need before getting your first payment.

They can also be paid when there is a delay in your benefit payment or if you have had a change of circumstances increasing your benefit entitlement but payment at the increased rate is not due to be paid straight away.

You can apply to the DWP for a Short Term Advance of benefit by:

Phone 0345 608 8545. 

The Scottish Welfare Fund aims to:

  • provide a safety net in an emergency when there is an immediate threat to health and safety through Crisis Grants
  • enable independent living or continued independent living, preventing the need for institutional care through Community Care Grants

Who can apply? 

Grants are available to anyone aged 16 or over and applicants should normally have a low income, for example be in receipt of a benefit such as Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance or Pension Credit.

However, applicants do not have to be in receipt of a benefit to receive a grant. Anyone who has a low income, or does not have access to their money, can apply.

Will I get a grant if I apply?

The amount of funding each council gets to spend each year on the Scottish Welfare Fund is limited and, unfortunately, there is not enough money to assist everyone who applies. Your application will therefore be given a high, medium or low priority rating according to your individual circumstances and needs.

Grants will only be considered if you have no alternative means of paying for what you need and will be awarded according to your priority rating. Normally, only high priority cases will receive support but this can vary on a month to month basis depending on the money available in the Scottish Welfare Fund budget.

High priority groups include:

  • people who are vulnerable including older people and people with disabilities
  • people who have an immediate and severe need
  • people who will face significant adverse consequences if the item or payment is not provided.

The effect of a grant also has to have an immediate and substantial effect on the applicant's circumstances.

Will I definitely get a grant if I meet the qualifying conditions?

The amount of funding each council gets to spend each year on the Scottish Welfare Fund is limited and, unfortunately, there is not enough money to help everyone who applies.  Your application will therefore be given a high, medium or low "priority rating" according to your individual circumstances and needs.   

Grants will be awarded according to your priority rating and whether you have no alternative means of paying for what you need.  

The budget priority ratings for Stirling Council are decided at the start of each month and can vary on a month to month basis depending on the money available.  

Priority Ratings for 2016
MonthCommunity Care GrantsCrisis Grants
April HighHigh
MayHighHigh
JuneHighHigh
JulyHighHigh
AugustHighHigh
SeptemberHighHigh
OctoberHighHigh
NovemberHighHigh
DecemberHighHigh
Priority rating for 2017  
JanuaryHighHigh
FebruaryHighHigh
MarchHighHigh
AprilHighHigh

Are there circumstances when I will not be able to apply for a Crisis or Community Care Grant?

Scottish Welfare Fund is a limited budget, so unfortunately we are unable to pay everyone.  Once your application has been made it will be given a priority level of high, medium or low.  This is based on your individual circumstances and needs.

Crisis Grants - you will not qualify if one or more of the following applies:

  • You have made a claim for a DWP benefit and the payment is delayed - you must apply for a Short -Term Benefit Advance instead.
  • You have already received three Crisis Grants. The number of awards that you can receive from all Scottish councils in any twelve month rolling period will normally be limited to three. Any further awards within this period will be at the discretion of the council and will only be given in exceptional circumstances.

Crisis and Community Care Grants - you may not qualify if:

  • You have already applied for the same item within the last 28 days.

If you do make a repeat application within 28 days then you will only be considered for an award if you have had a "relevant change of circumstances". The following may constitute a "relevant change in circumstances":

  • Taking on caring responsibilities
  • A deterioration in your health or the health of someone in your family
  • A change to your household composition
  • Becoming entitled to a qualifying benefit
  • Fleeing domestic violence

What happens if I do not qualify for a grant or my application is refused?

There is a list of items which are excluded from the Scottish Welfare Fund giving details of alternative support that may be available to you.

There may also be other sources of support that you could get.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your application, you cannot appeal but you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a First Tier Review. You need to apply in writing for a review within 20 days of the decision. This time limit can be extended if it is accepted that you have good reasons for not applying on time.

(For applications made up to and including 31st March 2016) If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the First Tier Review, you can ask for a Second Tier Review.  Second Tier Reviews are carried out by a panel of individuals who are not involved with the decision making team. The panel will ensure that correct, reasonable and fair decisions are being made and the guidance for the fund is being followed.  The maximum time for dealing with Second Tier Reviews is 5 working days for Crisis Grants and 30 working days for Community Care Grants. 

(For applications made after 1st April 2016) If you are unhappy with our decision, you have the right to ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) for an independent review.  The SPSO are not part of the council.
You should ask the SPSO for an independent review within one month of receiving our decision. In some circumstances you may be able to ask for a review after this.  You should contact the SPSO for advice.

You can ask the SPSO for an independent review over the phone or in writing. If you prefer, they will send you a form in the post, or you can print it off their website or fill it in online.   

How to contact the SPSO:

  • By phone on 0800 014 7299. Calls are free to this number, even from mobiles.
  • Write to this address: FREEPOSTSPSO. You don’t need to use a stamp.
  • Website: www.spso.org.uk/scottishwelfarefund

The SPSO can give you information in other languages or formats (such as large print, SMS, audio or Braille). In some cases, the SPSO may be able to meet you in person.

Information Leaflet

Challenging Decisions

Email enquiries

SWF@stirling.gov.uk 

Further information…

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