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, who are on benefits or have a low income, 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 applications that have been refused, you have the right to ask for a review.
The review process is split in to two stages. The first stage is a First Tier Review.
If you would like to request a First Tier Review, you must do this within 4 weeks (20 working days) of the date of your original decision letter.
Your request should be in writing and should give:
- The date and reference number from your letter
- The reasons why you do not think the right decision was made on the application. For example, this might be because:
- You do not agree that you are not eligible for the Scottish Welfare Fund, or
- You do not agree that you do not qualify for a grant, or
- You do not agree with the priority level given to your circumstances, or refused items, or
- You do not agree with the award, or award amount, that has been made, or
- You do not think we took all the relevant information in to account, or
- You think that there has been an error or failure in the decision making process
- Information which you did not give us when you filled in your application but you think might make a difference to our decision. Please phone us to find out more about this if you are not sure.
- Information on any changes to your circumstances since the application which might make a difference to our decision.
Your signature. If someone is making a review request for you, you must sign the letter giving your agreement for the Review to proceed.
Arrangements will be made for your case to be reviewed by a manager within the Revenues and Benefits section who was not involved in the original decision.
The outcome of your review will be communicated in writing or by telephone.
Crisis Grant First Tier Reviews will be dealt with within 2 working days.
Community Care Grant First Tier Reviews will be dealt 15 working days.
If you are still not happy once you have received your decision on your First Tier Review, you can request a Second Tier Review.
Second tier review
If you are unhappy with the Council's decision, 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 your 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.
You can contact the SPSO by:
The SPSO can give you information in other languages or formats (such as large print, SMS. audio or Braille). In some cases, the SPSO may be able to meet you in person.
September weekend opening hours
The Scottish Welfare Fund section will be closed from 4.30pm on Thursday 14 September 2017 and normal opening hours will resume on Tuesday 19 September 2017.
Outwith this period, and 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 phone 0800 328 7758.
You can still use the online application form during this period but please be aware that your application form will not be looked at until at least Tuesday 19 September 2017.
Normal opening hours
We operate office hours of Monday to Thursday 9am–4.30pm, Friday 9am–3.30pm.