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.

Annex B SWF Statutory Guidance Proposed Content

a) Policy context and background

  • The history of the SWF and the discretionary Social Fund
  • Background on Welfare Reform
  • The wider Scottish Government policy context and specific objectives for the guidance
  • Advice on equality impacts
  • Human Rights considerations
  • Groups likely to benefit from the SWF

b) The purpose and objectives of the grants

c) Financial management approach

  • How LAs should approach setting priority ratings for the decision making process
  • Making connections to audit, risk assessment and fraud
  • How to charge items awarded to the SWF budget

d) The holistic approach - other services to link to and the value they can add

e) Links to wider welfare system/DWP benefits

  • Data sharing with DWP
  • Interaction with short term benefit allowances and budgeting loans
  • What to do if an applicant is subject to sanctions and disallowances

f) Detail on eligibility and how to interpret regulations

  • Examples of when an LA might make an exception to qualifying benefits
  • How far in advance of need an application can be made for a community care grant

g) Financial calculations

  • Examples of capital to take in to account in making calculations
  • What to do when capital is not releasable
  • Guideline daily amounts for payments for living expenses
  • A guideline minimum award

h) Four stage decision making process.

  • An explanation of the inquisitorial role of decision makers in gathering and assessing the information in an application
  • Good practice in decision making
  • Information that should be recorded about applications and decisions
  • How long to keep paperwork

i) Situations where a grant might be given

  • Examples of situations where a grant might be given
  • Things to take into account in making an award

j) The type of support that might be given when an award is made

  • Grants, vouchers, items etc.
  • Making an award in principle, on the condition that something else happens.
  • Points to consider in making an award, for example stigma, disability, religious observance
  • Provision of supervised spend to support an applicant

k) The application process

  • Requirement for LAs to promote awareness of the SWF on their websites as a minimum
  • How the service should be made available - on line, on the phone, face to face
  • Good practice in meeting needs of vulnerable groups
  • Good practice in communicating the decision

l) First and second tier review

  • The objectives of review
  • What an applicant should include in a request for review
  • How to deal with additional information and a change of circumstances during the review process
  • The process for first tier review
  • The process for second tier review
  • The role of the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
  • The role of Judicial Review
  • Review as a driver for improving the service

m) Monitoring and quality improvement

  • Promoting consistency in decision making
  • Advice on monitoring
  • Benchmarking and quality improvement

n) Definitions - e.g. of a child, dependent child, family, planned re-settlement programme

o) Excluded items/needs i.e. a list of items not provided by the funds

p) Sample paperwork - e.g.

  • Application form
  • Decision recording
  • Decision letters
  • Review letters


Email: Chris McGhee

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