Cash-First Fund: form and guidance

Fund for partnerships of public sector and third sector organisations for collaborative work to improve urgent local access to cash in a crisis.


This fund closed for applications on 1 September 2023


The Scottish Government wants to work with local partners towards our shared ambition of ending the need for food banks in Scotland.

One of the ways we can do this is by supporting collaborative working between the different sectors and services that help people experiencing hardship to improve access to emergency financial assistance as the first port of call in a crisis – this is known as a cash-first response (“cash-first”). Providing money advice and holistic support services alongside cash-first responses can help to prevent future hardship. Taken together, these actions can help to maintain dignity for those experiencing hardship by enabling them to have choice over how to access the food and other essentials they need, and can start to reduce the need for emergency food parcels.

Our two-year Cash-First Fund (“the Fund”) will support up to eight local Partnerships to collaborate and deliver activities that improve urgent access to cash in a crisis, and will generate evidence that can be shared to inform future policy and practice.

The Fund and the wider Cash-First Programme are commitments within Cash-First: Towards Ending the Need for Food Banks in Scotland. This Plan sets out the Scottish Government’s human rights approach to food insecurity and outlines nine collaborative actions we will take with others over the next three years to improve the response to financial crisis and start to reduce the need for emergency food parcels.

Purpose of the fund

The overarching objective of the Fund is to improve urgent local access to cash in a crisis which can help to maintain dignity for those supported and reduce the need for emergency food parcels. We will do this by:

  • Providing funding for local collaboration and tests of change
  • Providing practical assistance through tailored advice and peer support
  • Sharing good practice within and beyond the participating areas
  • Independently evaluating the Programme to inform future decisions

Amount of funding available

Successful Partnerships will be provided with a total of up to £200,000 for activities linked to the Fund’s objective. Eligible activities include coordination, tests of change to improve existing support and / or deliver new sources of cash-first, and evidence gathering and analysis. They will also receive advice from a learning partner and opportunities for peer-learning across the Partnership cohort. The impact of this approach will be independently evaluated to inform future policy and practice.

Closing date for applications

Completed application forms should be sent to by 17:00 on Friday 1 September 2023.

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