The Scottish Welfare Fund
The Scottish Welfare Fund has been set up by the Scottish Government to help people who are on a low income and who are in difficult situations where an award of cash or goods will reduce a risk to their health and safety or help them to live independently.
The Fund is administered by local councils and can provide discretionary help as cash, goods, vouchers or travel tickets. It can provide two types of assistance:
Crisis Grants in an emergency or a disaster, normally for things like food, heating and travel expenses for specific needs.
Community Care Grants are available to help someone live independently, normally for things like cookers, beds and removal expenses.
Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants do not have to be repaid.
The Scottish Welfare Fund cannot you help with some things. These include educational costs, court expenses, funerals costs, debt repayments, and medical needs. Awards for a television or radio are normally excluded, but may be considered in exceptional circumstances if, for example, you need one because of limited mobility or isolation.
Throughout the process of applying to the Scottish Welfare Fund, you should expect to be treated with respect and dignity.
When you apply, the council may see from your application that you could benefit from other support. They may signpost or refer you to council services, or to a Citizens Advice Bureau, housing support service, energy advice service, befriending service or a specialist service such as a Carer’s Centre.
This leaflet provides general information about the Scottish Welfare Fund. If you need more detailed information call the Age Scotland Helpline on 0800 12 44 222.
How to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund
You need apply to the council where you live, or where you plan to live if you are moving to a new area.
The way you can apply for help will vary between local councils, but they take applications in a number of ways including online, by phone and face-to-face and paper application forms.
You can apply yourself, or someone else can apply on your behalf if you give your permission for them to do this.
If you need help to make your claim, you could ask an independent advice agency such as a Citizens Advice Bureau to help you.
In your application, you will need to give the council information including information about:
Yourself and the people who live with you.
Your income and your partner’s income.
Whether you have savings and can access them; you cannot get a Community Care Grant if you have more in savings than £700 if you are below pension age or £1200 if you are over pension age.
Whether you are applying for a Crisis or Community Care Grant.
Why you need an award, what you need, and what will happen if you don’t get one.
If you have had an award before.
What particular circumstances may make you vulnerable, including health problems and problems caused by your age.
Any evidence which supports your need for a grant. The council can also ask you or others such as your doctor or the Department for Work and Pensions, for further information if it needs to.
Whether you are waiting for a decision about, or payment of, another benefit.
Your application will be given high, medium or low priority. This will depend on the ‘nature, extent, severity and urgency’ of your need, how vulnerable you are, and what is likely to happen if payment is refused.
The council will decide each month the extent to which its budget allows it to meet high, medium or low priority applications. It is likely that sometimes only high priority needs will be met.
Grants can be awarded in cash, goods or cash equivalents such as travel vouchers, high street vouchers or fuel cards.
The council may notify you of their decision by phone, text or email. It should also confirm it in writing.
If you need to be told about the decision by another method because of sensory or cognitive impairment, it is important that you inform the council. It should communicate its decision in way that meets your needs.
The decision should make clear:
Whether the award is a Crisis Grant or a Community Care Grant.
The date of your application.
The result of the application, and its priority level.
The date of the decision.
Why the decision was made.
If you have been successful what has been awarded.
Other possible sources of help.
How you can ask for a review if you disagree with the decision
If you are liable to pay income tax, check you are paying the right amount. For information about income tax and older people you can check the Tax Help for Older People website at www.taxvol.org.uk or contact them on 0845 601 3321.
Equality & human rights
Your rights do not diminish as you get older, but unfortunately some older people find that other people make assumptions about them and treat them differently because of their age or a long-term condition or disability.
The legislation which is intended to protect people from unfair treatment includes the Equality Act 2010 and Human Rights legislation.
Discrimination occurs when someone makes an assumption about you because of your age (or another “protected characteristic”) and treats you differently because of it.
Sometimes you may need to point out that someone’s assumptions about you are not true, sometimes you may need information and advice to decide whether to take further action.
It may be difficult to prove that you have experienced unfair treatment which is unlawful as there are very specific rules about this. If you think this may apply to you, seek specialist advice about the legal issues around your complaint and to make sure you present your case as effectively as possible.
For specialist advice, contact the Equality Advisory Support Service
(EASS) discrimination helpline on 0808 800 0082.
If you believe you are experiencing discrimination, call Silver Line Scotland for information or for specialist advice contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) discrimination helpline on 0808 800 0082.
My apologies to Age Scotland and Starter Packs for any misquotes
Provided by Mae Stewart, Editor UNISON Retired members Newsletter, Dundee, Perth and Angus. Please note that this is not definitive information about benefits but will provide a signpost as to where to get up to date information. Please check the sources first. UNISON Scotland can take no responsibility for information that may be outdated or inaccurate.