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.

What the funding can be used for

Partnerships will be able to use funding for activities to improve urgent local access to cash in a crisis. Activities should reflect the local context but could include:

  • Coordination and programme management
    • Agreeing a locally shared ambition to improve access to cash in a crisis
    • Identifying relevant services with high food bank referrals
    • Facilitating collaboration and improvement between services
    • Facilitating direct experience participation
  • Improving existing support
    • Promoting cash-first to services, including through IFAN leaflets
    • Training frontline staff on referring to cash-first 
    • Improving cash-first referral pathways between services
    • Targeting cash-first to people at greater risk or less likely to access services
    • Improving the accessibility of cash-first
    • Improving the administration of cash-first e.g. through faster decision-making, different payment platforms / digital cards
    • Progressing relevant action identified in the Scottish Welfare Fund Action Plan
  • Trialling new support
    • Agreeing new cash-first pathways for services with a high rate of food bank referrals, for example work with housing associations
    • Targeted activities within specific services, e.g. cash grants issued by services that are a first point of contact for people experiencing crisis
    • Targeted activities for specific at-risk groups, e.g. rapid cash-first support for families with infants under 1
    • Measures that directly help to overcome specific local barriers to cash-first
  • Evidence gathering and analysis
    • Understanding and overcoming barriers to cash-first
    • Understanding needs and where to target – including through local measurement of food insecurity
    • Monitoring the impact of interventions

Advice on eligibility of food-based work

Reducing the need for emergency food parcels does not mean an end to wider community food activities such as growing, preparing, sharing and eating together – the Scottish Government will continue to support the work of community organisations that do work of this nature but food-based work is not the focus of this Fund.

Community organisations are trusted places where people often seek crisis support and they will have an important role in the success of Cash-First Partnerships. For the purposes of this Fund, they may be directly involved in delivering cash-first or referring to cash-first, alongside providing wider holistic support services.                                 

Ineligible activities

The fund is not able to cover the costs of the following activities:

  • Core and operational costs, other than reasonable costs directly linked to the delivery of eligible activities – for example, employing a coordinator
  • Delivering existing services or delivering activities for which funding is already available, unless there is clear additionality to the work and the learning could be integrated into future practice – for example testing a new model of service delivery or targeting an underrepresented group
  • Profit-making, fundraising activities or activity that results in private gain
  • Contingency costs, loans, endowments or interest
  • Political or religious activities
  • VAT
  • Statutory requirements

Assessment criteria

Proposals should meet all of the following criteria:

  • The proposal has been developed in partnership between relevant local services and articulates a clear shared ambition
  • There are robust partnership structures in place to deliver the activities
  • The activities seek to improve urgent access to cash in a crisis
  • The activities have been informed by local evidence, are targeted to meet a clear need and draw on available evidence of what is likely to work
  • The activities involve people with direct experience of accessing crisis support
  • The proposal includes an indicative approach to monitoring
  • The applicant is committed to working with the Scottish Government and contractors to finalise the parameters of the activities and monitoring, and to participate in learning and evaluation activities
  • The applicant is committed towards embedding any successful project in future budget and policy delivery, for example through a plan to review resource allocation, identify paths to scale, work with service leads to embed changes as a result of evidence generated by the project 

Duration of activities

Funded activities must be delivered within the 24-month funding period. However, Partnerships are encouraged to continue collaborating and working to improve responses to hardship beyond the period of this Fund.

We recognise that it may not be the right time for some areas to take forward improvement action. Through the work of the learning partner alongside existing professional networks, we will seek to generate lessons that can be shared more widely and, where appropriate, scaled up in the future.

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