East Lothian Council

Welfare Reform

Scottish Welfare Fund Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a new service provided by councils that started from 1st April 2013. It replaced the discretionary Social Fund provided by the Department for Work and Pensions.  It provides grants, not loans.

Crisis Grants

Crisis Grants can be awarded in a crisis to meet expenses that have arisen as a result of an emergency or disaster in order to avoid serious damage or serious risk to the health and safety of an applicant or their family.

Applications can be made for living expenses or for essential items following a disaster.  Awards may be in cash or in kind.  Some examples of living expenses are food, essential heating costs, nappies, toiletries, travel costs and costs for accommodation in a hostel.  A Crisis Grant may not be awarded if the applicant can access other resources to tide them over the crisis.

Community Care Grants

Community Care Grants can support independent living, preventing the need for institutional care.  Applications can be made for essential items such as furniture, household equipment, travel costs, removal expenses, storage charges, connection charges for gas and electricity.  A Community Care Grant may not be awarded if the applicant (or their partner) has savings of over £700 if they are below pension age, or £1200 if above pension age. The amount of money available to councils through the Scottish Welfare Fund is limited every year, therefore payments may be restricted.

Who can apply?

You should be 16 or over. Applicants should normally have a low income and be entitled to one of the following but this is not essential:  

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Savings Pension Credit
  • Guaranteed Pension Credit
  • Payment on account of one of above
  • or have no means of support  

However applicants DO NOT have to be in receipt of a benefit to receive a grant. Anyone who has a low income or does not have access to their money can apply.

The key test of eligibility for a Crisis Grant is the severity of the applicant's situation and the likely impact on them and their family. The key test of eligibility for a Community Care Grant is retaining or establishing a settled way of life in the community.  

How can I apply?

You can make your application for the Scottish Welfare Fund in a number of ways. To apply to the Scottish Welfare fund, you will have to fill out a detailed claim form and provide evidence of your identity and address. The form is available online or you can download and print a PDF form using the link below, we can help you complete both versions of the form.

You can hand in the completed form at one of our offices detailed below or you can telephone and make an application over the phone by contacting us on 01620 828 790.

What happens if I am refused a grant or I do not qualify?

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your Scottish Welfare Fund application you can ask for the decision to be looked at again. This is called a Review. You need to apply for a Review within 20 days of receiving the decision about your Scottish Welfare Fund application. The time limit of 20 days can be extended if you can show you had good reasons for not applying within the 20 day time limit.  

If you would like to request a review, write to:

Scottish Welfare Fund Team,  East Lothian Council, PO Box 13261, Haddington, East Lothian, EH41 3YA.   

Your request should be in writing and should give

  • the date and reference number from your decision letter.
  • the reasons why you do not think the right decision was made on the application.  For example, this might be because you do not think we took all the relevant information in to account, because you do not agree with the award that has been made or because you don't agree that you are not eligible for the Scottish Welfare Fund.
  • information which you did not give us when you filled in your application but which you think might make a difference to our decision.  Please phone us to find out more about this if you are not sure.
  • information on any changes to your circumstances since the application which might make a difference to our decision.
  • your signature.  If someone is making a review request for you, you must sign the letter giving your agreement for the review to proceed.

How long should it take for to complete my first tier review?

We aim to deal with Community Care Grant reviews within 15 working days and Crisis Grant reviews within 2 working days. We will notify you in writing of their decision. This should include an explanation of their decision, and information about what you can do if you are not happy with the review decision.

The first tier review made the same decision as the original decision. Is that it?

No. If you are unhappy with our decision, you have the right to ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) for an independent review. The SPSO service is independent and impartial.

You can ask for a second tier impartial review if you disagree with the decision because:

  • you don't think the first review was reasonable
  • you think there was an error during the decision-making
  • you don't think it was made fairly, in line with the Scottish Government, or local policy
  • you don't think that you were given an opportunity to put across your case properly.

When can I ask for a second tier review?

You should request the review within one month of the first tier review decision. In some circumstances you may be able to ask for a review after this. You should contact the SPSO for advice.

How do I make a second tier review request?

You can ask the SPSO for an independent review over the phone or in writing. If you prefer, they will send you a form in the post or you can print it off their website or fill it in online.

How to contact the SPSO:

  • By phone on 0800 014 7299. Calls are free to this number, even from mobiles.
  • Write to this address: FREEPOST SPSO. You don't need to use a stamp.
  • Website: www.spso.org.uk/scottishwelfarefund.

The SPSO can give you information in other languages or formats (such as large print, SMS, audio or Braille). In some cases the SPSO may be able to meet you in person.

What can they decide?

They have three options. They can:

  • uphold, or agree with the decision
  • set-aside the decision. This means that they will refer the application back to the original decision-making team for them to gather further information, or look at a specific aspect again
  • overturn the decision, and make a new one.

They can't reduce the award, or take it away.

How long will it take them to reach a decision after they get my request?

The review panel aim to process Community Care Grant reviews within 21 working days, and Crisis Grant reviews within 1 working day.

Contact us

If you need any help about a new or existing claim, our phone number is 01620 828 790 or you can call in at the main Benefit Office, Council Buildings, Court Street, Haddington EH41 3YG or email scottishwelfarefund@eastlothian.gov.uk

We are open between 9am and 4.30pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, between 10am and 4.30pm on Wednesday and between 9am and 3.30pm on Friday. Staff in other designated local offices will also be able to help you. Their addresses are:

  • Dunbar, Bleachingfield Centre, Countess Crescent, Dunbar EH42 1DX
  • Musselburgh, Brunton Hall, Ladywell Road, Musselburgh EH21 6AF
  • North Berwick Area Office, School Road, North Berwick EH39 4JU
  • Prestonpans, Aldhammer House, High Street, Prestonpans EH32 9SH
  • Tranent, The George Johnstone Centre, 35 Winton Place, Tranent EH33 1AE 

PO Box 13261, Haddington, EH41 3YG

Telephone: 01620 828790

Benefits are changing. Find out how this may affect you on our Welfare Reform information and advice pages.

Watch our housing advice videos. These show how we can help with a range of issues from relationship breakdown, to finding a private let. They explain recent Benefits changes, as well.
If you need any further advice or guidance, please contact us.

East Lothian Council, John Muir House Brewery Park Haddington East Lothian EH41 3HA.