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Scottish Welfare Fund

What is the Scottish Welfare Fund?

From 01 April 2013, Scottish Local Authorities are responsible for the administration of the Scottish Welfare Fund. This replaces part of the Department of Work and Pensions Social Fund – Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants.

This discretionary scheme provides two types of grant - Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants. These grants do not need to be paid back.

Crisis Grants

A Crisis Grant aims to help people who are in crisis because of either

  • a disaster (like fire or flood)
  • an emergency (like needing to travel to visit a sick child).

Community Care Grant

A Community Care Grant aims to help people who

  • may have to go into care unless they get some support to enable them to stay at home.
  • are leaving any form of care such as a hospital, prison or care home and require help to set up their own home

A Community Care Grant can also help households facing exceptional pressure with one-off items (like a cooker or a washing machine).

What about the Social Fund?

Other aspects of the Social Fund still remain with the DWP, including:

  • Sure Start Maternity Grants
  • Funeral Payments
  • Cold Weather Payments
  • Winter Fuel Payments
  • Budgeting Loans/Budgeting Advances

The DWP also offer support to people waiting for their first payment of benefit and who, in the absence of any other financial support, need an advance of that benefit to tide them over until the benefit is in payment. These payments are called Short Term Benefit Advances.

Who can apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund?

You must be over 16 and on a low income to be eligible to apply.

Are there circumstances when I will not be able to apply for a grant?

There are a range of circumstance in which you would not be eligible for a grant, including:

  • if you have already received three Crisis Grants. The number of Crisis Grants that you can receive from all the Scottish Councils in any twelve month rolling period will normally be limited to three. Any further awards within this period will be at the discretion of the Council and will only be given in exceptional circumstances
  • if you have already applied for the same item within the last 28 days (unless there has been a relevant change of circumstances)
  • if you have access to savings or capital of any amount (for Crisis Grants) or over a certain limit (for Community Care Grants)
  • if you are subject to immigration control

This list is not exhaustive, you must also satisfy certain qualifying conditions before a grant can be considered.

Will I get a grant if I apply for one?

The Council only has a limited amount of money available from the Fund so the decision to award a grant and how much to pay will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Grants are only available to people who do not have alternative means of paying for what they need.

If we receive a lot of applications, only the highest priority cases will receive support. Examples of high priority need are:

  • people who are vulnerable due to old age, ill health or for some other reason
  • people who have immediate need
  • people who will face significant adverse consequences if the item or payment is not provided

How will grants be paid?

Crisis Grants awards will be made via the PayPoint Cash Out system. This system will allow for prepaid gas and electricity cards to be topped up with credit where you have requested assistance with fuel costs.

Community Care Grant awards will be made by the supply, delivery and installation of furniture, white goods and other household items. It is important to note that you must not buy items or pay for anything before you hear about the outcome of your Community Care Grant application. You will not be re-imbursed if you have already paid for things you asked for help with.

How do I apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund?

You must apply to the Council where you live or intend to live (if you are leaving hospital, prison or residential care).

If you live in South Ayrshire, you can check eligibility and apply:

  • Online (you will need to allow pop-ups in your browser)
  • Download a claim form
  • By phoning 0300 123 0900 to apply for a Crisis Grant or for further details about applying for a Community Care Grant

Or you can request a claim form by emailing

What happens if I am refused a grant or if I do not qualify?

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your Scottish Welfare Fund application you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a review. You need to apply for a review within 20 days of receiving the decision about your Scottish Welfare Fund application. The time limit of 20 days can be extended if you can show you had good reasons for not applying within the 20 day time limit.

A first tier review is carried out by a different decision maker from the Scottish Welfare Fund Team. If you are not happy with the outcome of the first tier review, you have the right to ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) for an independent review. The SPSO are not part of the council.

You should ask the SPSO for an independent review within one month of receiving our decision. In some circumstances you may be able to ask for a review after this. You should contact the SPSO for advice.

You can ask the SPSO for an independent review over the phone or in writing. If you prefer, they will send you a form in the post, or you can print it off their website or fill it in online.

How to contact the SPSO:

  • By phone on 0800 014 7299. Calls are free to this number, even from mobiles.
  • Write to this address: FREEPOST SPSO. You don’t need to use a stamp.
  • Website:

You can obtain further information and leaflets from the SPSO website. The SPSO can give you information in other languages or formats.

What alternatives are there to the Scottish Welfare Fund?

We will work with you to identify any other support you may need or be entitled to and refer you to relevant services to help tackle underlying problems. This may include money advice, debt advice, welfare rights, social services or any other relevant services.


View the list of contacts.

More Information and Frequently Asked Questions

Further information is available on the Scottish Government Website.

This website also provides a BSL Translation video to assist with enquiries.

Where can I find out more?

You can find out more from your local Council or from the Scottish Government’s website at:

The guidance for decision makers on the Scottish Welfare Fund is available at:

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Last updated: 21 June 2016

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