Scottish Welfare Fund: statutory guidance – March 2021
An update to the Scottish Welfare Fund statutory guidance, previously published in May 2019, to include a section on the Self-isolation Support Grant and to correct any inaccuracies or anachronisms which have occurred since the previous publication.
6. Qualifying Conditions / Exclusions
Exclusions for both Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants
6.1 The Regulations provide that a local authority does not need to consider an application if a person has applied for a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Grant for the same items or services within the last 28 days, where a decision has already been made and there has not been a relevant change of circumstances. This is so that LAs are not required to process repeated unchanged applications for the same items which would not be the best use of administration resources. Examples of what could be considered a relevant change of circumstance may be;
- a change in living circumstances which has a financial impact;
- deterioration in a health condition that is deemed to be relevant to their application;
- entering a new and different period of crisis which occurs after their initial application.
6.2 The individual circumstances of the case should be taken into account and the above list is not exhaustive.
6.3 For crisis grants this means that an application for living expenses for the same period should not be considered twice. An application for living expenses for a different period e.g. the week following the period covered by their previous application, is not an application for the same items or services, as it covers a different period.
6.4 Where an award has been made to assist a person to care for an individual on temporary release within the past 28 days and a further application is received for a different period of temporary release, this would be considered to be a relevant change in circumstances and a further award can be made.
6.5 Local authorities should not refuse Crisis or Community Care Grants on the basis that the applicant has outstanding debts to the local authority e.g. local authority tax arrears or unpaid parking tickets. Any grant made to the individual should not be used to pay outstanding debt to a local authority, see exclusions at Annex A of the guidance.
6.6 The Regulations also state that a person should not be awarded a Community Care Grant or a Crisis Grant for a range of excluded items. These are set out at Annex A of the guidance.
6.7 There is no separate criterion for awarding grants for travel expenses. Expenses for travel to a family funeral or for visits to prison or hospital do not qualify for a grant in their own right. However, if the local authority judges that a journey is essential in connection with a crisis, exceptional pressure or in support of independent living, they may make an award for travelling expenses under the criteria for Crisis and Community Care Grants. In these cases, awards should be for the standard rate public transport. Where public transport is not available or is not suitable for some reason, petrol costs or taxi costs may be awarded. Local authorities may award travel vouchers. Any travel awards will count towards three grants in a 12 month period.
Applicants subject to immigration control
6.8 The legislation covering immigration control is very complex and changeable. It is important that Welfare Fund teams make links with officers within their local authority who specialise in this area.
6.9 A person who requires leave to enter or remain in the UK is subject to immigration control. Many people who are subject to immigration control will have a 'no recourse to public funds' restriction as a condition of their leave.
6.10 An individual with NRPF has no entitlement to mainstream social security benefits, local authority housing or homelessness assistance. Making a grant to a person with NRPF can affect their legal status and no award should be made. The applicant should instead be referred to Welfare Rights, the Home Office or relevant bodies for specialist immigration advice and assistance.
6.11 People who are awaiting a decision on an asylum application to stay in the UK, or whose application has been refused, are not entitled to most mainstream social security benefits and should be excluded from the SWF.
6.12 A 'refugee' is a person who has been granted permission to remain in the UK and becomes eligible to work and can access mainstream welfare benefits on the same basis as UK nationals. This includes applying for Community Care Grants and/or Crisis Grants from the SWF.
European Economic Area Nationals
6.13 The only residence requirement for access to grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund is that a person is resident in a local authority. There is no need to be habitually resident in the UK, as applies for a number of benefits.
6.14 The rights of EEA nationals who lived in the UK by 31 December 2020 are protected in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement. EEA nationals who were living in the UK by the end of 2020 can apply to the UK Government's EU Settlement Scheme. Successful applicants will be awarded settled status (indefinite leave to remain) or pre-settled status (five years limited leave to remain). The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a six-month grace period for people to apply to the scheme. The scheme will therefore close to new applicants on 30 June 2021. This means that there will be four groups of EEA nationals living in Scotland:
1) People who have settled or pre-settled status. This group are eligible for payments from the Welfare Fund.
2) People who have indefinite leave to remain. This group are eligible for payments from the Welfare Fund.
3) People whose rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement (in other words, they were living in the UK before 31 December 2020) but have not yet been granted settled or pre-settled status.
All members of this group are eligible for SWF payments until at least 30 June 2021. From 1 July 2021, only those people in this group that have an outstanding application to the EUSS are eligible for SWF payments. For example, an EEA national applies to the EUSS on 20 June 2021. On 30 June 2021, the same person has not received a decision on their EUSS application but makes an application to the Scottish Welfare Fund. They are entitled to SWF while the EUSS applications is being considered by the Home Office.
4) People who have arrived in the UK from 1 January 2021. This group will have arrived through the UK Government's immigration rules and are very likely to have the NRPF condition applied to their leave. If they do have the NRPF condition, they are ineligible for the Scottish Welfare Fund.
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