Supporting disabled children, young people and their families: guidance

Guidance to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people, and their families.

Financial support


In this section:

Information about Scottish Social Security Payments


The passing of the Social Security (Scotland) Act 2018 through the Scottish Parliament in April 2018 marked a historic moment,  representing a significant milestone in delivering the new Scottish social security system. The Act establishes a framework for the new system, and transposes the eleven existing social security benefits that are devolved onto a Scottish legislative platform, allowing the Scottish Parliament to shape a distinctly Scottish social security system with dignity and respect at its heart.


Examples of Benefits which remain reserved to the UK Government (See for more)

Examples of Benefits being devolved to the Scottish Government

Universal Credit which replaces:


  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Employment Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Child Tax Credits and
  • Housing Benefit

Ill Health and Disability Benefits:


  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Disability Living Allowance for children is a benefit for under 16s who, because of a disability or health condition, have mobility issues and/or need more care, attention and supervision than children their age normally would.

The allowance is non-means tested, non-taxed, rises with inflation and acts as a passport to other types of support, such as Motability, Blue Badge, Housing Benefits, Carers Allowance, Child Tax Credit, Universal Credit and exemption from the benefit cap. It is designed to contribute to the additional costs that those with long-term health conditions or disabilities face. The benefit is split into a Care component and a Mobility component. Either or both can be claimed, depending on need. Application packs are available in accessible formats.

The Personal Independence Payment is an allowance like the DLA, for people of working age, which helps with the extra costs of living caused by long-term ill-health or disability. The delivery of DLA will remain the responsibility of the UK Government until Scottish infrastructure is in place.

If you wish to dispute a decision relating to your benefit entitlement, you may wish to consider the Advocacy section of this site.

Remember: Your Health Visitor, Community Children’s Nurse or social worker might be able to provide you with further help and information about benefits and how to apply.

Where can I get further advice about financial help? 

What financial support is available for Carers?


Carer’s Allowance is financial support for someone who is caring for another person for at least 35 hours a week and who is in receipt of one of:-

  • The care component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle or highest rate.
  • The daily living component of Personal Independence Payment at either rate.
  • Attendance allowance at any rate. This is a benefit for older people.

If you share the care of a disabled child with someone else and you each provide at least 35 hours a week care, only one of you can get Carer's Allowance for that child. There are additional tests if you work or study. 

Contact provide further information and a factsheet about Carer's Allowance.

Young Carer Grant

From autumn 2019, a £300 annual payment will be made available for young adults with significant caring responsibilities who do not qualify for Carer’s Allowance. It will be delivered on an entitlement basis to those young carers who meet the eligibility criteria and are between the ages of 16 to 17, or up to 18 if still at school. The aim of the grant is to help improve their quality of life and enable them to take part in opportunities that they may otherwise not engage with because of their caring role, for example, undertaking further education, employment or leisure opportunities.

The Scottish Government also funds the voluntary Short Breaks Fund for carers and their families which is run on our behalf by Shared Care Scotland and Family Fund.   Please visit the websites to find out more about the different options within the Short Breaks Fund.

Further information about support available to carers can be found in the Support for the Whole Family section of this site.

Who can I speak to for more information?

Families can be eligible for a number of national benefits and tax credits, particularly if they are on low or single incomes. Benefits also exist at local level to help with Council Tax, housing and health costs. Local Councils have  Benefits Offices where individuals can visit or call to discuss their specific circumstances. Citizens Advice Scotland is a good place to start and you can find your local bureau for face-to- face advice and information.

What support is available in a child’s early years?


Best Start Grant

The Best Start Grant replaces the Sure Start Maternity Grant in Scotland.  The Best Start Grant’s package of three benefit payments gives families on lower incomes some additional money at key early stages in their children’s life, adding to the family budget and reducing the need for borrowing:

  1.   A Pregnancy and Baby Payment of £600 on the birth of their first child and £300 on the birth of any second or subsequent children.
  2.   An Early Learning Payment of £250.
  3.   A School Age Payment of £250.

The mother of the child, her partner, or someone who has a young mother dependant on them are eligible if they get certain benefits.

People who are under 18 do not need to be on qualifying benefits.  Neither do mothers who are aged 18 or 19 and still in full time education or training and dependent on someone else.  For these parents there is a choice about whether they apply in their own right or the person they are dependent on applies.

Claims for the Pregnancy and Baby Payment opened on 10th December 2018.  The Early Learning and School Age Payments will follow by summer 2019.

More information can be found at the site

I need more help with finances


In 2018 the Scottish Government began the roll-out of a Family Financial Health Check Guarantee. It is aimed at families on low incomes with children and will help them to access a ‘financial MOT’, including advice on benefit eligibility and managing money. Its main goal is to allow families to claim everything they are entitled to and to access the best deals on financial products and services, as well as energy bills. This new service, which is one of the commitments outlined in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan, will be available through a freephone telephone number: 0800 085 7145 or in person at Citizens Advice Bureaux across the country.

Family Fund is the UK’s largest charity providing grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. The Fund provide grants for a wide range of items, such as washing machines, sensory toys, family breaks, bedding, tablets, furniture, outdoor play equipment, clothing and computers.

ILF Scotland Transition Fund


If you’re aged 15 – 21 with a disability or impairment you can apply to the Transition Fund for money to help you participate in a new activity or learn a skill that will help you to become independent and continue to spend more time with other people.

To apply for the Transition Fund, you'll need to apply to ILF Scotland.

The definition of disability or impairment

You have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a 'substantial' and 'long-term' negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Who can apply

You can apply to the Transition Fund if you:

  • are between 15 and 21 years old
  • have lived in Scotland for the last 6 months
  • have an impairment or disability
  • have less than £26,250 in your personal savings

If you apply for the grant at age 15 you will not receive the money until you turn 16.

People who have little or no formal support from Social Work Services or through Self Directed Support will get priority.

What you can use the money for

You can use the money for things like:

  • art or music lessons
  • a device or piece of technology to help you with your impairment
  • joining a class or club
  • travel training
  • driving lessons (vehicles are not usually funded)
  • training courses

Alex's story - Independent Living Fund

You can call me Alex, I was born in Glasgow and have lived here all my life. My current activities include Kung-Fu lessons, driving lessons and athletics. I’m also a student at City of Glasgow College and I am one of the Young Ambassadors for ILF Scotland Transition Fund.

I also have Asperger’s, yes, it’s been a constant challenge in my growth as a person and my transition through life. My early years of school were very difficult, the only way I could find solace was playing with Lego in my bedroom. This was only a short-term cure for the anxiety and depression I was trapped in.

However, when I went to primary school I slowly learnt that my Aspergers impacted on my ability to communicate with others, I wasn’t bad or stupid after all. Whilst here, teachers gave me the opportunity to try skiing lessons with Disability Snowsport UK (DSUK). I enjoy skiing due to the freedom that it brings to my mind. This experience  inspired me to never give up on the things I have a passion for.

When I moved on to secondary school, staff encouraged me to join an athletics club. Although it was challenging and scary at first, I slowly began to chat with my fellow athletes, which was a stepping stone for my social skills and fitness too.

Since then, I have competed in regional and national championships for both swimming and athletics. I also made the squads in the Special Olympics in 2013 and 2017. These were all incredibly proud moments for me and my team, providing me with a sense of belonging.

When I left secondary school, all routine was taken from me. Days sank into each other, which was mentally draining for me and I struggled with my anxiety, feeling like a prisoner in my own home. It felt like my voice didn’t matter anymore. I felt I was a nuisance to my family, a burden.

Then things began to change when I met a worker at ARC Scotland. They first introduced me to the concept of the Transition Fund for young people with a disability. For the first time in a long time, people wanted to hear my opinion. I went from feeling like no one cared to thinking maybe I could actually do something to help other young people with disabilities. It was the beginning of a new direction in my life, one which has led me to take more chances.

I believe we have a lot to contribute to society and our voices should be heard. It’s a great feeling as a young disabled person to have your voice heard and for the people listening to really want to make a difference.

I’m now undertaking a Media Studies Course, which I’m really enjoying. I’ve given a presentation at the Scottish Parliament with The Family Fund celebrating the YOYP and was involved in the co-design of the ILF Scotland Transition Fund. I am also now part of a very special community at Kung Fu, growing in confidence and learning new skills.

Scottish Welfare Fund

Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund to help families and people in Scotland who are on low incomes by offering 2 different types of grants:

Crisis Grant: You can claim if you're in crisis because of a disaster (like a fire or flood), or an emergency (like losing your money or an unexpected expense)

Community Care GrantThis grant is to help you or someone you care for to start to live, or to carry on living, a settled life in the community aiming  to help vulnerable people set up home or continue to live independently within their community. They are specifically aimed at families under extreme pressure such as following a period of care or homelessness.

You can apply for these grants directly through your local council by visiting the social security pages of the Scottish Government website.

Self Directed Support

Local Authorities have a duty to offer anyone eligible for social care four options about how their support is delivered. One of these options is Direct payment, to pay for the support yourself. For more information on how your care can be delivered, see the Health and Social Care and Support section of this site.

Self-directed support allows young people and families to make informed choices on what their support looks like and how it is delivered, making it possible to meet agreed personal outcomes.  You can find information with details of the self-directed support options on the Self Directed Support Scotland website as well as how to proceed by using the get help button on the right hand side of the page to help find services in your area.

Further information can also be found on the Scottish Government funded Self Directed Support Scotland Website "My Support My Choice".



The Motability Scheme enables people in receipt of some disability benefits to transfer the mobility component of their benefit to lease a new car, powered wheelchair or scooter.  People who can access the scheme will be in receipt of:

  • The higher rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • The enhanced rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that disabled people on the higher mobility rates of these benefits are able to lease the car or equipment they need to meet their mobility needs. As part of the devolution of some areas of social security, the Scottish Government is developing an approach that ensures that people in receipt of relevant benefits continue to have access to the support they require for their mobility needs when responsibility for these benefits is transferred.

Current recipients of the two benefits above can access the Motability Scheme by contacting Motability on:

  • Phone    0300 456 4566
  • Minicom 0300 037 0100

Further details on the scheme and eligibility are available at the Motability website.

What is Family Fund?


Family Fund is a UK based charity, who receive funding from the Scottish Government for families on low incomes raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.

Their main role is to provide financial grants to families raising disabled children and young people; however, they also provide information and signpost to other charities and services which families may find useful.

How do I apply?

Family Fund’s website has information on how families can apply for grants and access other help and support they provide. It also has a section which signposts to other useful and relevant services.

During the assessment process, Family Fund provides information, advice and support to families, including signposting to other services. Families who have applied for the first time, or who need extra support will often receive a home visit to help better understand the family's situation. This provides an opportunity for families to discuss any issues they face or problems they need extra support with. Based on this, the professional carrying out the visit can provide information on local statutory services and support groups.

Families resident in the UK can apply for a grant for a child or young person aged 17 or under. Family Fund uses a social model of disability, considering the challenges that the child faces in their everyday life. Family Fund prioritises support to families on low incomes. You can find out more about their full eligibility criteria on their website.

The family Fund is a discretionary grant and may be refused if a family has significant savings, income or capital. 

What other support does Family Fund provide?

Family Fund offers a variety of services to make it easier for children and families to access computers and the internet. They have gathered a selection of online resources and can also provide a group training session for parents and carers of children and young people with a disability in the community.

The Family Fund also provide "Siblings Matter Too" grants following assessment a visit from one of their independent assessors.

If you’re a family member or carer of a disabled child or young person, see the Support for the Whole Family section of this site to see what other help might be available.

Elena's story

Elena is two years old, and lives in Dundee with her family. “Elena has got Down’s Syndrome as well as a congenital heart defect, so she is two years old and can’t stand or walk by herself at all,” explains her mum, Leona.

Her heart condition puts her at risk of infections, if she gets ill it can affect her heart. She gets things like colds really easily and they will last a long time because of her weak immune system.

Family Fund is a really great charity that provides things that families are in great need of. The application process is so much easier than other ones too, which is nice, because I have found some applications to be very stressful.

We found out about Family Fund through a Down’s Syndrome Facebook group, and the first thing we applied for was a washer dryer. My daughter has bad reflux, so she is sick several times a day, and we always have to put on a lot of washing. We don’t have room for both a tumble dryer and a washing machine, so a washer dryer was a good solution to get bed sheets, and other things that we need, cleaned and dried.

Our most recent Family Fund grant was for a swing and a slide. I used to take Elena to the park quite a lot, but I would always have to take cleaning wipes and clean everything in case there was a risk of infection, and taking her to the park was hard because she finds it very uncomfortable being in her pram. Now she has got her own swing and slide, so she can just go outside and be out on that every day.

We definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford a washer dryer or play equipment by ourselves.  It would have been impossible to get the garden equipment, and we would still have to travel to the nearest park and use my cleaning wipes to try and protect her. The washing machine is something that I needed, so I imagine I would have had to try and borrow some money from somewhere.

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