The Scottish Welfare Fund replaced the DWP “Social Fund” crisis loans and community care grants in April 2013 and is available to anyone on a low income. When these were abolished by the tory government, the Scottish government began funding them instead. To access these grants, you apply directly to your local council (find direct links below). Each council has it’s own application process.
The DWP 'Social Fund' still exists providing payments such as Hardship Payments, Budgeting Loans etc. please check out our Social Fund page for more details.
What happened to Community Care Grants & Crisis Loans in England & Wales?
Each local council decided for itself whether to replace the CCG and CG with council funds. These are referred to as ‘local welfare assistance schemes’. Some councils have it but some don’t - check their websites for information.
Community Care Grant
Free money. Not a loan therefore no need to repay it.
Budget limited – so claims can succeed some times, fail at others, just due to budget constraints.
This grant is there to help you in any of the following ways:
to live independently
to avoid needing to move into institutional care
to set up a home if you have been homeless
if you and your family are facing exceptional pressures
to care for a prisoner or young offender on temporary release
Each council has extensive discretion over how else they award the grant*
*p3 of “Scottish Welfare Fund – Statutory Guidance, April 2016”
Reasons for applying for the grant
Family under pressure
relationship breakdown / risk of relationship breakdown
sudden domestic upheaval
onset or deterioration of disabled family member
Prevent entry into institutional/residential care – including hospital
claimant needs these items to remain a member of community
without them is at high risk of relapse / being hospitalised / being placed in care
Leaving institutional/residential care
Planned resettlement by council or charity
Travelling expenses for visiting separated children pending court decision, visiting sick relatives, funerals, etc.
Examples of what you can apply for
Cooker (including fitting)
Bedding – duvet, sheets, covers
Kitchen utensils, crockery, cutlery
Fridge (hard to get)
Washing Machine - including fitting (hard to get)
Small dining table and 2 chairs (hard to get)
Bedroom Carpet (nearly impossible to get)
The Argos catalogue (in hard copy or online) tends to be used as the baseline for prices. Choose middle price range from that. You must itemise everything individually, or the form may be returned to you insisting that you do so before they process the claim.
Carpets or floor coverings generally not awarded now, unless you can argue a health risk of not having them, which is difficult to win. Families with babies of crawling age can be an exception – you can argue floor is covered in loose concrete and floorboard skelfs which are risking injury to the baby.
The Review (“appeal”) Process
Is the same for both CCG & CG. The first step is the council. Normally always ask for a review – even if you get a partial award, you can get the additional items added in on review. Having an award downgraded is in practice unknown, especially as the money has already been given to the claimant. After the ‘first tier’ review stage go to the SPSO and ask for a ‘second tier’ review. The SPSO are independent of the council & Scottish government. But you have to have gone through the council’s review process first.
During the Review
Possible things that you might argue/emphasise for a Community Care Grant Review for a single person could be:
At risk of being hospitalised
Because of drink/drugs and mental health conditions
Condition spiralling out of control
Likelihood of requiring hospital or detox/rehabilitation treatment
Things to emphasise during a review:
If we get support for these items claimant will be able to...
This is the basis on which we have made the claim...
We feel claimant meets criteria...
Claimant is at risk...
Serious health problems...
We want to help claimant to maintain their place in the community and in order to do that need help with their housing.
Several occurrences in the past where claimant required treatment and care.
Claimant is ready to tip over the edge.
Do not decide to go for a budget loan instead of a CCG at some stage. Best to refuse a loan from the DWP until the CCG review process is exhausted, because a loan is no patch on real money.
You do not need to be receiving benefits to be able to apply. Similar to budgeting loans except are available for everyone. You can apply if you have run up your repayment limit on budgeting loans. A decision should be made on your application no later than the end of the next working day for Crisis grants. Crisis grants are normally limited to three in a 12 month period. Crisis grants can be for household items (furniture, cookers, etc.)
Crisis grants are to assist people in an emergency or after a disaster, for example:
to prevent serious damage or risk to claimant or family health and safety
is the only way of preventing serious damage or risk
loss of money or benefits, and need money for food/fuel
awaiting benefit claim outcome / benefit payment, and need money for food/fuel
rent in advance (if landlord is not local authority)
essential household items and furniture if on IB
otherwise unable to apply for CCGs and BLs.
The Review (“appeal”) Process
If the Crisis grant is refused, ask for a review. This is called a ‘First Tier Review’. Once you’ve got a decision, you have 20 days to ask for a review. It must be in writing and signed. The maximum time you should have to wait for a decision on a review for Crisis grant applications is no later than the end of the second working day after that on which the review request was made. If that also fails, ask for a ‘Second Tier Review’ from the SPSO – an independent and free ombudsman service separate from the council.
EDINBURGH COALITION AGAINST POVERTY is based at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh (ACE), an open campaign space & infoshop providing resources and solidarity. Resources available include free computer/internet access, cheap copying, free leaflets, books, pamphlets and mags for sale, and a library. Every Tuesday from 12 to 3pm support and solidarity is available for benefits, debt hassles, housing and other problems. Please contact us at Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty c/o ACE, 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA, 0131 557 6242 or email@example.com. We invite you to join our solidarity phone tree and get involved. ACE is also open at other times for particular events (but the support and solidarity sessions are only on Tuesday).