The Scottish Welfare Fund


The Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) is a discretionary scheme which aims to help people who are experiencing a crisis or who need support to live independently in the community. 

The fund is administered by local authorities and was set up in response to changes to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Social Fund.  This means that some of the responsibilities that used to fall with the DWP are now the responsibility of local authorities in Scotland.  As the SWF provides grants to people in need it does not have to be paid back.   

There is national guidance set up for the whole of Scotland, but there are some differences in the way the fund operates locally.  For example some local authorities may offer a grant for a specific item, whereas other may offer assistance in kind (such as vouchers for food or a store card with money placed on it).   

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 local authority decide who gets help? 

If you are on a low income and have no other way to pay for what you need, you may be eligible for help through the fund.  The main points that the local authority decision makers will consider are the same for both grants.  The four stage process is as follows:

  1. 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.
  2. Qualifying conditions  - They will look at whether your personal circumstances coordinate with the qualifying conditions for the grant.
  3. 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 need.
  4. 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. 


There are specific rules put in place for the types of items that the fund can help with.  For example it cannot be used to pay off debts.

How do you apply?

A standard application form is used across Scotland, however each local authority has their own way of administrating this.  This could be face to face, over the phone, on-line or by downloading and posting a form.  To find out how you can apply to your particular local authority, 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.  You could also ask someone else to apply on your behalf if they have your permission to do so. 

Call Silver Line Scotland for advice concerning your individual situation.  Our advice team can discuss with you possible ways to maximise your income by carrying out a benefits check and can look into different options for you.  They can also advise about the Scottish Welfare Fund in depth and can give you information about how to contact your specific local authority.

Further information

For more in depth information, see Age Scotland’s factsheet about The Scottish Welfare Fund and the Scottish Government’s myth-busting Q&A.

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