1.1 This is a report of the findings from a public consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government on draft regulations and statutory guidance under the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015. The draft regulations and statutory guidance were published on 27 May 2015 and the consultation ran for three months, with a closing date of 21 August 2015.
1.2 The Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) was established in April 2013, replacing elements of the Social Fund abolished by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It is a national scheme, delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by all 32 local authorities. The scheme is discretionary, with applications considered in accordance with interim guidance published by the Scottish Government.
1.3 There are two types of grant available through the SWF: Community Care Grants (CCGs) and Crisis Grants (CGs). CCGs made under the scheme help people to live independently, preventing the need for institutional care, whilst CGs help those facing disaster or emergency situations. Both are intended for those on low incomes. As they are grants, they do not need to be repaid by the recipient. Since April 2013, the SWF has helped more than 164,000 households.
1.4 The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 was first introduced to Scottish Parliament on 10 June 2014 and received royal assent on 8 April 2015. The Act will come into force on 1 April 2016. Interim guidance was issued to local authorities in April 2013, with updates in October 2013, May 2014 and April 2015. Between 27 May 2015 and 21 August 2015, the Scottish Government consulted on the permanent arrangements for the SWF, specifically draft regulations and new statutory guidance.
1.5 The consultation sought views about these new permanent arrangements, specifically about certain policy issues, the contents of the draft regulations and statutory guidance, and ways the current application form could be improved.
About the consultation
1.6 The consultation paper was in four sections and contained 22 questions. The first section sought views on a range of policy issues and the equalities impacts of the draft regulations and statutory guidance (Questions 1-16). The second section asked for views about the draft regulations (Questions 17 and 18). The third section contained a single question (Question 19) inviting comments or suggestions about the draft statutory guidance not already covered in the first 16 questions. The final section invited comments to inform the development of the application form for the permanent SWF (Questions 20-22).
1.7 The consultation paper also included annexes containing a copy of the 2015 Act (Annex A); the draft regulations (Annex B); the draft statutory guidance (Annex C); and the current combined CG and CCG application form (Annex D).
1.8 A separate, Easy Read version of the consultation document was also made available. This contained 12 questions. The Easy Read questions were slightly different to those in the main consultation paper, but they focused on a subset of the issues discussed in section 1 of the consultation paper. All 12 of the Easy Read questions were open; there were no tick-box questions.
1.9 Information about the consultation was specifically sent to all Scottish local authorities and a wide range of third sector organisations that have an interest in welfare reform, or a role in supporting the rights and welfare of people who may be living in or at risk of poverty. In addition to seeking formal responses, the Scottish Government hosted and coproduced a series of events with the third sector to spark debate and generate interest in the consultation.
1.10 The consultation was hosted on the Scottish Government’s Citizen Space Consultation Hub, which provided a facility for people to submit their responses online.
About the analysis
1.11 Frequency analysis was undertaken in relation to all the closed questions and the findings are shown in tables throughout this report. Comments made in response to open questions were analysed qualitatively to identify the main themes (i.e. reasons that respondents gave for their views; differences in views between different groups of respondents; areas requiring clarification; and any concerns raised by respondents).
1.12 Not all respondents answered all questions, and sometimes they made comments in relation to a question without ticking ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In these cases, no attempt has been made to impute a response to the closed question on the basis of the comments made.
Email: Will Tyler