Consultation on draft Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill and options for challenging decisions made by local authorities on applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund

This consultation is the first step in a legal process to underpin the Scottish Welfare Fund in legislation. It also seeks views on options for independent scrutiny of decisions made by local authorities on applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund.


Ministers' intention is that the interim scheme will form the basis of the scheme to be set out in legislation. The practical framework for delivery which underpins the SWF is therefore out-with the scope of this consultation. For example, as agreed with COSLA Leaders, LAs will continue to deliver the SWF. They will continue to have discretion about how to deliver the SWF, including whether to provide cash payments or alternative types of awards. The SWF will continue to be a discretionary budget-limited scheme that prioritises applications according to need. It will continue to provide grants that do not have to be repaid.

The draft Bill gives Scottish Ministers the discretion to make grants to support the delivery of the SWF. Currently, Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders have agreed that the funding for the SWF should be ring-fenced on an informal basis. The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill will allow the funding for the SWF to be ring-fenced formally, should Scottish Ministers and COSLA Leaders agree that this should be the case. In any event, the level of funding for the SWF will be determined through negotiation between Scottish Ministers and COSLA, in line with our continuing partnership arrangements.

The main areas on which we are looking for views through this consultation paper are:

1) a general view on whether the draft Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill includes the key elements you would expect it to contain;

2) which elements of the SWF should be set out in regulations and which should be set out in statutory guidance; and

3) which of three options will be the best way to provide for second tier review of LA decisions.

For the interim SWF, LAs are arranging second tier review by an impartial panel. Setting out the basis of the SWF in legislation provides the opportunity to consider a wider range of options. One of the main purposes of this consultation is therefore to seek views on the principles and options for second tier reviews that we have developed in conjunction with COSLA, LAs, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), the Tribunals Policy Team and other stakeholders.


Email: Chris McGhee

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