The Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) is a national scheme run by local authorities, based on guidance from Scottish Government.
The guidance takes the previous Social Fund rules (which was administered by the Department for Work and Pensions) as the starting point, but has important differences and takes Scottish priorities into account. The SWF aims to take advantage of the opportunity to strengthen links to other local services and provide a better service to vulnerable members of the local community.
The objectives of the new scheme are to:
- provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency, when there is an immediate threat to health or safety
- enable independent living or continued independent living, preventing the need for institutional care
There are two types of grants in the SWF:
- Crisis Grants
- Community Care Grants
A Crisis Grant aims to help people, typically on benefits, who are in crisis because of a disaster or an emergency. A disaster is something like a fire or a flood. An emergency might be the need to travel to visit a sick child or when money has been stolen.
A Community Care Grant aims to help people on benefits who may have to go into care unless they get some support to stay at home, or if they are leaving any form of care and need help to set up their own home (for example, they may be leaving hospital, prison or a residential care home). A Community Care Grant can also help families facing exceptional pressures with one-off items like a cooker or a washing machine.
The SWF is a discretionary, budget-limited scheme that prioritises applications according to need. It provides grants that do not have to be repaid. It does not provide loans. These grants may be in the form of goods being ordered and delivered to you, a voucher for fuel or a cash award in certain circumstances.
Who can apply
You must be over 16, on a low income or in receipt of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
How to apply
No face to face service is available unless there are exceptional circumstances. If this is the case, the SWF Team should be contacted for further information and to make arrangements.
The SWF Team will check personal circumstances, using information we already have where possible. In certain circumstances further information or proof will be required from the customer.
The target is to process Crisis Grant applications within two working days and Community Care Grants within 15 working days; however we will aim to process these more quickly where possible.
A different member of the team will make a decision from the person who takes the application; therefore it will not be possible to give an instant answer when an application is made. As the funds are budget-limited there will be claims that are not paid because they do not meet the priority set for that period.
How often you can apply
There is a limit of three awards per rolling 12 month period for Crisis Grants. There is no restriction on how many times someone can apply for Community Care Grant.
Where a cash award is granted, payments will be made using PayPoint, which has many outlets within the East Ayrshire area. You will be sent a code by text message and will take this to your nearest or most convenient PayPoint outlet. You will need to provide proof of your identity and will be given cash for their code. Where a text message cannot be sent, arrangements will be made to provide a voucher to you which can be used with PayPoint.
Where an award has been made that includes white goods or furniture (for example, fridge or bed) these items will be ordered and delivered to you. Where appropriate these will also be fitted. You will be advised of when the goods will be delivered so that arrangements can be made to receive them. We will not give you money to buy white goods or furniture yourself and we will not refund the cost of goods if you have bought them before your grant is decided.
For those claims that have been refused, you have the right of appeal. Appeals must be made in writing within 20 working days of our decision. There is a three stage appeal system. The first tier appeal will be considered by managers within the Revenues and Benefits Section who have not had any input into the original claim. The target for dealing with these is two working days for Crisis Grants and 15 working days for Community Care Grants.
Should you wish to appeal this decision, the second stage appeal will be dealt with by a panel (minimum of two people) made up of staff outwith the Revenues and Benefits Section. The maximum time for dealing with these is five working days for Crisis Grants and 30 working days for Community Care Grants. Any further disputes would be dealt with by the Ombudsman.
Normal opening hours
We operate office hours of Monday to Thursday 9am–4.30pm, Friday 9am–3.30pm.
Office hours over easter break
Our offices will be closed from 4.30pm on 2 April 2015 and will re-open on 7 April 2015 at 9am.
We will be open to deal with emergency Crisis Grants on Friday 3 April 2015 between 9am–1.30pm. All applications submitted online will be dealt with when our offices reopen on Tuesday 7 April 2015.
Outwith these days, in exceptional circumstances constituting an emergency, Social Work services may be able to assist a vulnerable adult or a person with responsibility for children in respect of provision of emergency food or fuel cards. In these circumstances please phone 0800 328 7758.