Expenditure and budgets
Unless otherwise stated, all expenditure information in this publication is based on the date of decision. As such it should be regarded as committed spend, rather than actual spend. Where a case has been reviewed, expenditure is assigned to the quarter of the initial decision rather than the review date. Further discussion of expenditure data quality is included in the Data Quality section of the publication.
Local authorities submit monthly management information returns to the Scottish Government. These returns also contain expenditure information on Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants. Chart 8 shows that expenditure recorded in the quarterly monitoring matches closely with the information in the monthly returns at Scotland level until March 2022.
Between 1 January and 31 March 2022:
£15.2 million was spent through the Scottish Welfare Fund, 15% less than in January to March 2021 when £17.9 million was spent (Table 39, Chart 8). Expenditure on Community Care Grants decreased by 25% (£8.9 million compared to £11.8 million) and expenditure on Crisis Grants increased by 3% (£6.3 million compared to £6.1 million).
The Official Statistics indicate that in March 2022, Scottish Welfare Fund expenditure was 107% higher than in March 2021, with Community Care Grant expenditure 195% higher and Crisis Grant expenditure 14% higher (Chart 8).
The available budget for awards in 2021-22 was £47.0 million, which included £35.5 million allocated by Scottish Government, and £11.4 million of underspend carried forward from 2020-21 (Table 40). A total of £54.1 million was spent on Scottish Welfare Fund awards during 2021-22 (Table 38), including £33.7 million on Community Care Grants (Table 34) and £20.4 million on Crisis Grants (Table 36). This is an overall increase in expenditure of 9%, with Community Care Grant expenditure increasing by 15% and Crisis Grant expenditure increasing by 2% compared to 2020-21.
Expenditure on Community Care Grants increased in 26 local authorities, the greatest relative increase being in Na-h Eileanan Siar (67% increase, Table 34). Expenditure decreased in six local authorities, the greatest relative decrease occurring in West Dunbartonshire (24% decrease). Expenditure on Crisis Grants increased in 16 local authorities, the greatest relative increase being in Highland (90%, Table 36). Expenditure decreased in 16 local authorities, with the greatest relative decrease in Orkney (61% decrease).
Average award value for Community Care Grants increased from £611 in 2020-21 to £692 in 2021-22. The average award value for Crisis Grants increased from £106 in 2020-21 to £115 in 2021-22.
Expenditure compared to budget:
As a whole, local authorities spent 115% of the available budget (the amount allocated by Scottish Government plus underspend from previous years) (Table 42, Chart 9). In comparison, at the end of 2020-21 83% of the available budget had been spent, although the budget available for the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2020-21 was £12.5 million higher than in 2021-22 (Table 40, Table 42).
Expenditure varied considerably between the local authorities. Only eight local authorities spent less than 90% of their budgets in 2021-22; compared to 21 in 2020-21, showing the greater pressure on budgets during 2021-22. The local authorities that had spent the smallest proportions of their budgets were Na-h Eileanan Siar (29%), Falkirk (57%) and North Ayrshire (61%). Collective underspend for the year was £4.3 million, which is £7.2 million less than at the end of 2020-21, although the budget available in 2021-22 was £12.5 million less (Table 40).
Eighteen local authorities spent more than their budget (Table 42, Chart 9): West Lothian (198%), South Lanarkshire (182%), Perth and Kinross (169%), Edinburgh City (167%), and Dumfries and Galloway (162%) all spent more than 150% of their budget. In total local authorities overspent their available budgets for 2021-22 by around £11.4 million, £9.9 million more than the overspend for 2020-21 (£1.5 million, Table 40).
Chart 10 indicates that the overspend was broadly steady until March 2022 where there was a notable increase (compared to the estimated flat expenditure profile).
Housing costs within Universal Credit:
From 1 April 2017, the UK Government introduced a change to the entitlement for housing costs within Universal Credit (UC), resulting in people aged 18-21 years no longer being eligible, unless the individual is covered by an exemption. The policy applies to new claimants, claiming UC on or after 1 April 2017, in an area using the full, digital service. To mitigate against this, the Scottish Government extended the Scottish Welfare Fund on an interim basis to provide Community Care Grants to 18-21 year olds affected by this change. Based on management information supplied to Scottish Government by local authorities, these grants amounted to around £14,000 from 1 April 2017 to 31 December 2018. Applications, awards, expenditure and review data relating to these grants have been excluded from the rest of this publication. On 5 November 2018 the UK Government laid regulations coming into force on 31 December 2018 revoking the removal of assistance with housing costs for those aged 18-21. We have not received any further management information on these grants since December 2018.
Family Reunion Crisis Grants:
Delivery of Family Reunion Crisis Grants commenced on 14 May 2018. The grants support refugee families arriving in Scotland under family reunion rules to settle with their family member already resident in the local authority area. Applicants can apply for both Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants through this scheme. Based on management information supplied to Scottish Government by local authorities, these grants have amounted to around £311,493 from 14 May 2018 to 31 March 2022.
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