Following the UK Government’s decision to slam the door on the crisis loan and community care grant scheme in April 2013, the Scottish Government rode to the rescue, announcing a replacement scheme to lift crisis hit Scots out of financial hardship.

The Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) is a new discretionary grant scheme which allows eligible Scots to apply for grant funding to cover essential expenditure until they receive their next benefit payment, or to apply for a grant to cover the purchase of essential items when leaving care or to allow them to continue to live independently. The new fund is administered by local authorities and applications can be made either in person, in writing, over the telephone or in some local authorities over the internet. To find out how to apply to your local authority click here.

In order to apply for a crisis grant, applicants must be aged over 16; must be in receipt of income support, income-based jobseekers allowance, income-based employment and support allowance, savings pension credit or guaranteed pension credit. The local authority can also consider applications from that not in receipt of benefits if they are fleeing domestic violence; if they are a grandparent or other relative who is in work and has taken on the care of a child and benefits in relation to the child are pending and in cases where the applicant is appealing a fit to work assessment for ESA.

There are a number of items which are excluded from the scheme and the local authority cannot fund these, these include:

  • Needs arising outside the United Kingdom
  • Holidays
  • Funeral expenses (as these are considered under the DWP funeral grant scheme)
  • For a full list of excluded items please see the list here.

According to the guidance, crisis grants are expected to be limited to around 60% of the personal allowance of the claimant plus an allowance for each child (if applicable), e.g. the personal allowance for a single person aged over 25 is £71.70 per week and 60% of this is £43.02.

Important – disabled applicants – The guidance makes reference to the award being normally limited to 60% of the personal allowance plus an allowance for eligible children. There is no mention in the guidance to include benefit premiums which are paid on top of the personal allowance to those receiving disability living allowance (or PIP). If you are applying for a crisis grant be sure to highlight your entitlement to the disability, severe disability or enhanced disability premiums and ASK FOR A REVIEW if the decision maker does not base your aware on your personal allowance inclusive of the premiums you receive. For a template letter click here.

The scheme is discretionary and is underpinned by guidance issued by the Scottish Government. The guidance handbook may be downloaded here and the Decision Makers manual may be downloaded here.

For crisis loan applications you should receive your decision within 2 working days and for community care grants you will hear back within 15 working days.


If you do not agree with the decision on your application

There is a two step review process if you do not agree with the decision made on your application. The first stage of review involves someone not involved in your original application looking at your application again and the second involves a review panel which includes lay members and members of local charitable and community groups.

When you receive your decision you will be provided with information about who to write to in order to request a review and the deadline by which your review must be requested.