Scottish Welfare Fund Statistics: Annual Update: 2021-22

The Scottish Welfare Fund comprises Community Care Grants – which help people to live independently – and Crisis Grants, which provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency.

This publication provides information on the SWF for 2021/22, and since 2013 when the scheme began.

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A total of 356,165 applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund were received in 2021-22, a slight decrease compared to 2020-21 (Table 2), the majority were for Crisis Grants (268,265, Table 6), and a smaller proportion were for Community Care Grants (87,900, Table 4).

Compared to 2020-21, the number of Community Care Grant applications increased by 4% (2,980) (Table 4, Chart 1), continuing an upward trend since 2017/18. At local authority level this varied from a 25% decrease in West Dunbartonshire to a 38% increase in Na-h Eileanan Siar (Table 4).

The number of Crisis Grant applications decreased by 1% (3,440) (Table 6, Chart 1), the first decrease on record, although remaining close to the 2020-21 peak. At local authority level, this varied from a 29% decrease in Clackmannanshire to a 53% increase in Highland (Table 6).

Applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund peaked in April 2020, January 2021 and January 2022. In January 2022, there were 4% more Scottish Welfare Fund applications than in January 2021, according to the Official Statistics (Chart 1). The April 2020 peak was due to an increase in Crisis Grant applications (+81%) that was likely due to the impacts of COVID-19. The January 2021 peak was due to increases in both Crisis Grants (+27%) and Community Care Grants (+15%), and the January 2022 peak related to an increase of 8% in Crisis Grants; while increased Scottish Welfare Fund applications in January are consistent with previous years, it is likely that this was also due to impacts of COVID-19.

Chart 1: Applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund – Scotland – Monthly
Line chart showing applications by month to the SWF, broken down into CCG and Crisis apps.

The most common reason for Community Care Grant applications was 'Families facing exceptional pressure' (35% of applications) (Table 8). This reason increased slightly compared to 2020-21, and remains ahead of 'Helping people to stay in the community' (28% of applications), the most common reason in previous years, which decreased by three percent compared to 2020-21. The number of applications due to 'Other' reasons increased by 16% compared to 2021-22. This category is likely to include applications that local authorities have recorded the reason as 'COVID-19' or similar on their own software systems, or could indicate a decrease in data quality due to additional pressures related to COVID-19.

Chart 2: Reasons for Application – Community Care Grants - Quarterly
Timelines of CCG application reasons from 2013 to 2022.

The most common reasons for Crisis Grant applications are different types of emergency (84% applications in 2021-22), whereas disasters such as fires and floods are less common (fewer than 1% of applications) (Table 11, Chart 3).

The most common reason remained 'Emergency - benefit/income spent' (42% of applications) although this decreased by 9% (11,130 applications) compared to 2020-21 (Table 11). The second most common reason was 'Emergency – unexpected expense' which increased by 5% (2,215 applications) compared to 2020-21. There were also increases in applications due to 'Emergency – other' reasons (+11%, 3,740 additional applications), 'Disaster – other' (+38%, 360), 'Other – delay in payment of benefits' (+2%, 191), 'Emergency – travel (+31%, 149), compared with 2020-21. Applications recorded as other reasons may relate directly to COVID-19, or to a decrease in data quality. (Table 10, Chart 3).

Chart 3: Reasons for Application – Crisis Grants – Quarterly
Timelines of Crisis Grant application reasons from 2013 to 2022.



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