Coronavirus (COVID-19) support in low income households: evaluation

Qualitative research evaluating a range of policies and support that were delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research looks at how this support impacted on the finances and wellbeing of low income households.

Annex A: Forms of COVID-related support

The table below sets out some of the key forms of support that were made available during the pandemic.



Delivered by

COVID hardship payments:

Winter payment in December 2020

£100 for each child who was in receipt of free school meals based on low income eligibility criteria. Mostly automatic but some may have needed to apply.

(Originally to have been a second 'Spring' payment at Easter 2021, but this was incorporated into Bridging Payments – below)

Local authorities

Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments

Quarterly (4) payments over 2021 calendar year. Encompasses the second of what were previously termed 'COVID hardship payments', plus what was previously called the Family Pandemic Payment (may be known to recipients by any of these).

£100- £160 for each child who was in receipt of free school meals based on low income eligibility criteria. Mostly automatic but some may have needed to apply.

  • Spring 2021 (COVID Hardship Spring payment) - £100
  • Summer 2021 (Family Pandemic Payment) - £100
  • Autumn 2021 - £160
  • Winter 2021 (Family Pandemic Payment + uplift) - £160

Local authorities

Cash based support funded by Scottish Government

For more information, see: Local action to tackle food insecurity: summary of activities, trends and learning - ( and Community Funding (

Charitable organisations, including Aberlour, Cash for Kids and other partners

Scottish Welfare Fund payments

Helps families and people who are on low incomes through Crisis Grants, Self-Isolation Support Grants and Community Care Grants.

Local authorities



Delivered by

Low Income Pandemic Payment

£130 to each household in receipt of Council Tax Reduction – to be completed by October 2021. Payments can be made into bank accounts, on a payment card such as PayPoint, or as a credit to Council Tax accounts.

Local authorities

Connecting Scotland

Ongoing programme enhancing digital connectivity to 23,000 families with children or young care leavers.

Local authorities and third sector organisations apply for devices on behalf of users, SCVO receive the applications, determine eligibility and distribute devices.

Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement

£230.10 to each person in receipt of Carer's Allowance.

Social Security Scotland.

Free School Meal alternate provision

Free School Meal alternatives for eligible children during school closures, periods of online learning and holidays – via direct payment, voucher or food parcel with a focus on a cash-first approach.

Local authorities

Wide ranging support for households facing barriers in accessing food, fuel and other essentials

Including through the Freephone national helpline and other local authority led initiatives (people could also call local authorities directly, instead of the national helpline to access the same support).

Things like support with mental health, befriending, and referrals to welfare support, social work support, and even NHS support can also be accessed via this service.

Local authorities and third sector partners.

Self-Isolation Support Service

This includes all the same support offered via the above service but is provided via proactive contact with individuals who agree to their local authority passing their details when they speak with contact tracers at Test and Protect (contact is via call and/or text depending on the local authority).

Local authorities – with support from Public Health Scotland/Test and Protect to collect and pass on details.



Delivered by

Self-Isolation Support Grants

£500 for low paid workers required to self-isolate if testing positive for COVID-19 or identified as a close contact.

(The administrative vehicle for the Self-Isolation Support Grant is the Scottish Welfare Fund. People can also use this to apply for crisis grants – this was not a COVID-specific support fund, but applications rose significantly during the pandemic).

Local authorities.

Shielding support

Included food boxes, priority food shopping slots, special text messaging service & letter communications.

Various ways of accessing this – including text and via local authorities

'Get into Summer' Programme

Activities to support young people in Scotland (aged up to 25) during the 2021 summer holidays. Local authority programmes targeted at families, children and young people on low incomes and/or particularly adversely affected by the pandemic; other partner activities for all children and young people. Primary aim was to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on young people and boost their wellbeing by giving them opportunities to socialise, play and reconnect, as well as increasing readiness to learn when schools return after the holidays.

Local authorities and 18 national partners:

  • Barnardos
  • Early Years Scotland
  • Care and Learning Alliance
  • Family Fund
  • Historic Environment Scotland
  • Mental Health Foundation
  • Museum and Galleries Scotland
  • Play Scotland
  • Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Scottish Forestry
  • Nature Scot
  • Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum
  • Scottish Association for Mental Health
  • SportScotland
  • Youthlink
  • Creative Scotland
  • Young Scot
  • Who Cares? Scotland

Universal Credit Uplift

Additional £20 per week uplift in Universal Credit, received until 6 October 2021.




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