Scottish Welfare Fund

Cost of living crisis: find out what help is available

We created the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) to provide occasional support to those most in need. It is a national scheme that provides discretionary awards. The SWF is administered by individual local authorities. 

The SWF provides two forms of discretionary grants: 

Crisis Grants

Aim to help eligible people on low incomes meet immediate short-term needs arising from exceptional circumstances such as an emergency or disaster. 

Community Care Grants

Aim to help eligible people on low incomes to establish or maintain a home. They can receive support if they are:

  • leaving care or at risk of needing to go into a care institution without grant support 
  • if they are leaving imprisonment or caring for someone who has been released from prison or a young offenders’ institution on temporary release 
  • if they have been homeless or living an unsettled way of life
  • if they, or someone in their household, are facing exceptional pressure


We produce statutory guidance for the SWF to provide a framework for decisions by local authority staff and to promote consistency in their decision making. The guidance gives local authorities considerable discretion in deciding whether an application meets the eligibility criteria.


We publish statistics every quarter which show how many applications have been made to each local authority, how many awards they made and how much money they awarded. The statistics also show the different reasons for applications being made, how long it takes to process applications and the different types of households which apply. They also provide information on the numbers of decisions which are considered by local authorities under the review process. 

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff.

Budget allocation for local authorities

The distribution of SWF funding to local authorities is based on the Income Domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). This aims to ensure that more money goes to the areas where more people experience poverty. It was agreed with COSLA in 2016 and was phased in over the following three years.

Full details of the SWF allocations and expenditure since April 2013 can be found in the quarterly statistics.

You can find more information on the SWF, including how to apply, on

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