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. Awards from the Fund are discretionary and are made by individual local authorities.

Since the launch of the SWF in 2013, more than 375,000 individual households in Scotland have been helped with awards totalling more than £235 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 SWF:

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 are provided to help people who need a grant in order to establish or maintain a settled home. They can receive support if they are:

  • leaving care or might need to go into a care institution
  • if they are leaving imprisonment or caring for someone on temporary release from prison or a young offenders’ institution
  • if they have been homeless or living an unsettled way of life
  • if they, or someone in their household, are facing exceptional pressure

Guidance

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.

Statistics

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. Find more information on the standards of official statistics in Scotland.

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.

Any money not used by local authorities during the financial year is rolled forward to their SWF budget for the following year. Full details of 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 mygov.scot