Scottish Welfare Fund

We created the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) to provide a safety net for people on low incomes. It is a national scheme that helps Scottish households in need.

From 1 April 2013 until 30 September 2019, 357,350 individual households in Scotland have been helped with awards totalling £219.2 million. A third of households were families with children, while just over half were single-person households with no children.

There are two types of grants in the Scottish Welfare Fund:

Crisis Grants

These aim to help people on a low-income who are in crisis because of a disaster (such as a fire or a flood) or an emergency (such as where money has been lost or an unexpected expense has arisen).

Community Care Grants

These aim to help vulnerable people establish or maintain a home in the community. They are specifically aimed at:

  • families under exceptional pressure
  • people following a period of care or homelessness
  • people continue to live independently where there's a risk of care or homelessness
  • helping people meet additional costs associated with looking after someone on temporary release from prison or a young offenders' institution

Find more information on the Scottish Welfare Fund and how to apply on


We produced the Scottish Welfare Fund: statutory guidance to provide a framework for decision makers that would promote consistency in decision making.

Because the SWF is a discretionary grant scheme, this guidance does not cover all eventualities. It is intended to support decision makers to meet the underlying objectives of the Fund.


We also produce quarterly statistics on the Scottish Welfare Fund. These publications contain:

  • the number of applications and awards for Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants
  • the processing times for applications
  • what the Scottish Welfare Fund has been spent on and household analyses
  • local authority analyses and details of the review process

Official statistics are produced by professionally independent statistical staff. Find more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland.

Budget allocation for local authorities

We are providing £38 million per year to local authorities to administer the Scottish Welfare Fund.

In 2016 we agreed with COSLA to determine distribution based on the Income Domain of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, so that funding would align with the needs of the most vulnerable communities. This approach is being phased in over three years, as follows:

  • 2016 to 2017 – 80% SWF spend to date, 20% Income Domain
  • 2017 to 2018 – average (SWF spend to date and Income Domain)
  • 2018 to 2019 – 100% Income Domain

Any money not used by local authorities is rolled forward to their SWF budget for the following year. Full details of SWF spend from April 2013 to September 2019 can be found in the quarterly statistics.

Budget allocation tables

Policy position papers

We have published a series of social security policy papers setting out our position on the development of the devolved benefits in Scotland.