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Scottish Welfare Fund - overview

This advice applies to Scotland

The Scottish Welfare Fund pays out crisis grants and community care grants to people in crisis and to people who need support to live independently in the community.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national scheme which is provided by local authorities. This page gives an overview of the Scottish Welfare Fund, crisis grants and community care grants.

What is the Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Welfare Fund provides support to people in crisis and to people who need help to live independently in the community. It is a national scheme which is provided by local authorities. It pays out two types of grant, a crisis grant and a community care grant.

The grants are available to people who do not have any other way of paying for what they need. As they are grants, they do not need to be paid back.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national scheme which is provided by local authorities. Each local authority has its own application form. You can find contact details for all the local authorities in Scotland on the Scottish Government's website at www.gov.scot.

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get benefit to help with your living costs, your rent or other housing costs.

What are crisis grants

You may be able to get a crisis grant if you have an immediate financial need as a result of an emergency or a disaster and the grant will help you avoid serious damage or serious risk to the health and safety of yourself or your family. For example, if you have spent your money on visiting a sick child in hospital and you have no money to buy food until your next benefit payment, you may be able to get a crisis grant.

You cannot normally get a crisis grant if you are waiting for a decision about a benefit that you have applied for and you do not have enough money to live on until the decision is made. If you are in this situation, you may be able to get a short term advance of benefit. These are the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and so you should apply via your Jobcentre Plus office. However if your need is severe, your local authority may make an exception and award you a crisis grant while your application to the DWP is in progress. For example, this might be appropriate if the DWP lost your application and you have had to reapply.

You cannot get a crisis grant to pay for rent in advance for new accommodation. You may be able to get a discretionary housing payment from your local authority or a budgeting loan or budgeting advance from the DWP.

If you want more information about discretionary housing payments, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

What are community care grants

You may be able to get a community care grant if you need financial help to assist you to live independently in the community or to ease exceptional pressures on yourself or your family. For example, you may need household goods to help you to set up home after a period of homelessness, or a period of time in prison or a family may need help to set up home after the breakdown of an abusive relationship.

How to get a crisis grant or a community care grant

In order to get a crisis grant or a community care grant, you need to be eligible for a grant, your situation needs to be one of the situations that a grant can be made for and the local authority needs to have enough money left in the budget to be able to pay you a grant. Local authorities manage their budget by giving each application a certain priority, either high, medium or low, and then deciding which priority of application they can afford to pay each month. So for example, a local authority may decide that in some months, it can afford to pay high priority applications only. At other times, it may be able to afford to pay high, medium and low priority applications.

Local authorities decide what priority to give your application by looking at how much you need the grant, how vulnerable you are and what is likely to happen if you do not get a grant. Examples of factors that might increase your vulnerability are chronic illness, disability, being a lone parent, addictions or misuse of alcohol or drugs.

Discrimination and the Scottish Welfare Fund

It is against the law for you to be treated unfairly because of age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or childbirth, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation when you are trying to access a local authority service such as the Scottish Welfare Fund. Also, most local authorities have policies which say they will not discriminate against you because of other things, for example, if you have caring responsibilities. If you feel that you've been discriminated against when you applied to the Scottish Welfare Fund, you can make a complaint about this using the local authority’s complaints procedure.

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