The Scottish Welfare Fund was introduced in April 2013. It replaces the DWP’s Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans.
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, and 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 needing 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.
In February 2014, the Scottish Government issued revised guidance for the Scottish Welfare Fund. The boundaries of eligibility have been expanded and the discretion to make exceptions has been clarified in respect of Crisis Grants.