The Scottish Welfare Fund is a discretionary scheme which aims to help people who are experiencing a crisis or who need support to live independently in the community.
Local councils administer the fund according to Scottish Government legislation and guidance; the Scottish Welfare Fund can make crisis grants, or community care grants, and these do not have to be repaid.
There are some differences in how the fund works locally: some councils may offer a grant for a specific item, whereas other may offer assistance in kind (such as vouchers for food or a store card).
What does the fund provide?
The Scottish Welfare Fund is made up of two separate grants – a crisis grant and community care grant.
A community care grant aims to help with the costs that are involved to remain as independent as possible at home and prevent the need to for institutional care.
A crisis grant is intended to act as a safety net in a disaster or emergency, when there is an immediate threat to health and safety.
How does the council decide who gets help?
If you are on a low income and have no other way to pay for what you need, the fund may be able to help you. The council will need to look at:
- Eligibility for the grant - This involves a number of checks including your identity, how much savings you have and whether you have applied to the fund before.
- Qualifying conditions - They will look at whether your personal circumstances meet the qualifying conditions for the grant.
- Priority - Your application will be given high, medium or low priority. This will depend on the nature of the problem that you have and the severity of your need.
- Budget - Depending on the demand for the fund, the decision maker has to decide whether the budget can be used for high, medium or low priority applications.
The fund cannot help with some problems, such as paying off debts.
How do you apply?
Your council may let you apply by post, face to face, over the phone, online or by downloading and posting a form. To find out how you can apply to your council, see the Scottish Government guidance on this.
If you need help to fill out the form and make a claim you can ask an independent advice service, such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Someone else can apply on your behalf if they have your permission to do so.
Call the Age Scotland helpline (0800 12 44 222) for advice about your individual situation. Our advisers can give you more information about the fund and check if you may be entitled to other benefits too.
For more in depth information, see Age Scotland’s guide to the The Scottish Welfare Fund.