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Scottish Welfare Fund - community care grants

This advice applies to Scotland

Coronavirus – if you need emergency help

If you need emergency help to pay for household goods or services because of coronavirus, you can apply for a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Your local council will check if you're eligible. It's worth applying even if you're not sure you qualify. Councils are getting more money so they can pay out more grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund because of coronavirus.

What is a community care grant

Community care grants are intended to help with expenses so people can live in the community and families can stay together.

Community care grants are discretionary. This means that even if you're eligible, you'll only get a grant if:

  • the local council decides that your need is important
  • there's enough money in the budget to pay you a grant.

You don't have to pay back a community care grant.

Read more about community care grants on mygov.scot.

Who can get a community care grant

You can get a community care grant if you're aged 16 or over and on a low income.

You don't have to be getting benefits to be eligible. But if you're getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit or Pension Credit, you'll be considered to be on a low income.

You can usually only get a crisis grant from the local council where you live or where you're about to move to. 

If you're from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland

If you're a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, your local council should assess your application for a community care grant in the normal way. That is because your immigration status doesn't exclude you from applying for help. The EEA includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

If you're waiting for the result of a habitual residence test or an appeal for benefits is pending, your local council might still award you a community care grant.

Who can't get a community care grant

You can't get a community care grant if you or your partner has capital (for example, savings) of:

  • more than £700 if you're below State Pension age
  • more than £1,200 if you're above State Pension age.

You can't get a community care grant if you're a person subject to immigration control who has no recourse to public funds.

What situations can a community care grant help with

You can get a community care grant to help you:

  • establish yourself in the community after being in hospital, a care home or prison. You must have been receiving care for at least three months or on a regular basis
  • stay in the community rather than going into care. You'll need to show that a community care grant will help reduce the risk of you having to go into care. This might be to do with your physical or mental health or your living conditions
  • set up home in the community after an unsettled way of life, for example being homeless
  • stay in your home in the face of exceptional pressure on you or your family. Examples of exceptional pressures include chronic illness or disability or the breakdown of a relationship leading to the family moving home 
  • care for someone on temporary release from prison or a young offenders' institution.

Community care grants can cover a range of situations, so it's worth applying even if you're not sure that you qualify.

What expenses can a community care grant cover

Examples of items that you might get a community care grant for are:

  • furniture
  • household equipment like a cooker or washing machine
  • travel costs
  • removal expenses
  • storage charges.

You could also get a grant to help with living expenses if, for example, you're going to be looking after someone on temporary release from prison or a young offenders' institution.

What expenses can't a community care grant cover

You can't get a community care grant if you've applied for the same item or service within the previous 28 days, unless your circumstances have changed.

Some expenses are excluded from community care grants. You can't get a community care grant for:

How to apply for a community care grant

You'll need to check how your local council accepts applications. It might accept applications by post, online, by phone or in a face-to-face interview. It might accept applications by all of these methods or only one of them.

Find out how to apply for a community care grant in your local council on mygov.scot.

If you can apply to your local council by post or online, you'll need to complete your local council's application form. You might be able to get a copy of the application form by downloading it from your local council's website or by asking for a copy over the phone.

It's important to include all relevant information on the application form and explain what could happen if you don't get a grant. A social worker or someone else who works with you might be able to help you complete your application.

You can also get help from an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.

How a decision is made

Local councils give each community care grant application a priority level: high, medium or low. Then they decide which priority level of application they can afford to pay each month.

For example, a local council might decide that in some months, it can only afford to pay high-priority applications. At other times, it might be able to pay high-, medium- and low-priority applications.

To decide on the priority level of your application, your local council will look at:

  • how much you need the grant
  • how vulnerable you are
  • what's likely to happen if you don't get a grant.

Examples of factors that might increase your vulnerability are:

  • having a chronic illness
  • being disabled
  • being a single parent
  • being addicted to alcohol or drugs.

You might get exactly what you asked for, or you might only get a part of what you applied for.

You can be given help in kind, rather than cash. For example, you might be awarded travel vouchers, furniture, white goods or retail vouchers. If the grant is for furniture or white goods, it should include delivery and installation or fitting costs.

Your local council should decide on your application within 15 working days of getting all the information they need.

You can track your application by getting in touch with the local council you applied to. Find your local council on mygov.scot.

Challenging a community care grant decision

If your local council refuses your application or gives you less than you applied for, you can ask the council to look again at the decision. You usually need to ask the council to review the decision within 20 working days of finding out about the original decision.

If you're unhappy with the outcome of this review, you can apply to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) for an independent review. You usually need to do this within 20 working days of finding out the result of the first review. Read more about independent reviews on the SPSO website.

If you accept the local council's decision about your application but you're unhappy for another reason, for example you think you got a bad service, you can complain to the local council. If you've been through the council's complaints procedure and you're still unhappy, you can complain to the SPSO.

Help with challenging a decision

If you're thinking of challenging a community care grant decision, you can get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau. Find out where to get advice.

You can read more about how to challenge a Scottish Welfare Fund decision on the Scottish government website .

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