Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on tackling financial insecurity over winter

Guidance to local authorities to help tackle financial insecurity and support households with food and fuel over the winter

Funding to support delivery

Local authorities will be able to use £20 million to:

  • supplement local budgets for the Scottish Welfare Fund or Discretionary Housing Payments
  • provide financial support to tackle food insecurity or meet fuel costs, or alternate provision where this is more appropriate or is the preference of individuals themselves
  • other activities and services, as necessary, to support individuals to overcome financial crisis and support wellbeing

£6.95 million will be available to:

  • provide free school meal support during the school holidays that fall within the grant period: October, Christmas and February. This funding will cover the cost of support to pupils eligible for free school meals, excluding universal provision for P1-P3.

Additional resource to continue the provision of Free School Meals during Easter holidays will be made available in due course. Eligible costs related to free school meal support during the school holidays above the local authority’s respective allocation of the £6.95m will be an eligible cost against their allocation of the £20m element of this funding package.

Grant offer and monitoring

A single grant offer letter and addendum detail both allocations and the conditions for delivery and reporting from 1 October 2020 – March 2021. Completed Grant Claim forms are requested in January and March 2021. Light touch monitoring will sit alongside this in the form of a monthly email providing a best estimate of spend to Uplift to budgets for the Scottish Welfare Fund and Discretionary Housing Payments should be reported through the standard processes, highlighting where funds have been deployed from this package.


The Department for Work and Pensions has advised that local welfare provision -  such as financial and in-kind payments made by the local authority to help meet an immediate short term need arising out of an exceptional event or exceptional circumstances, and that requires to be met to avoid a risk to the well-being of an individual - will be disregarded when it comes to benefits. This means that a crisis cash payment, voucher or card provided by a local authority should not affect social security entitlement under the current circumstances.

Financial or other support made by third sector organisations is unlikely to affect entitlement except in the very unlikely event that these were accumulated (i.e. in the form of capital sums).

The Council Tax Reduction (Scotland) Regulations 2012 outline sums to be disregarded for council tax reduction purposes. Local authorities would need to satisfy themselves that payments were made utilising appropriate and exempted powers.

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