Scottish Welfare Fund news - April 2024

A graphical representation of the information below

During March we:

  • responded to 88 enquiries
  • made 70 decisions
    • 30 community care grants
    • 40 crisis grants
  • upheld 53% of community care grants and 32.5% of crisis grants
  • signposted an additional 80 applicants to other sources of assistance
  • received 21 enquiries from local council liaison contacts seeking advice on the guidance

 High most compelling priority rating 

We are seeing an increase in the number of cases involving ‘high most compelling’ (HMC) priority assessments. HMC is a special priority rating councils can apply when they are at risk of running out of funds. In practice, it means that

  • only the most vulnerable applicants at immediate risk without support receive assistance, and
  • only the most vital items for setting up or maintaining a home are awarded (e.g. beds, cooker and fridge). Other items like carpets and washing machines are less likely to be awarded, unless the council accepts there are specific circumstances for doing so. 

We recognise the budget constraints faced by the councils who have adopted this priority rating, but are concerned about the impact on applicants’ living standards. This is because such applicants in these local authorities, inevitably receive less support than other council areas. This is unfair. 

Councils have the ability to set their priority rating to low, medium, or high for regular SWF priority assessments, based on demand and resources. The impact of HMC appears to create greater inequity between those councils on HMC versus regular priority ratings. This is because the implications of HMC mean that many applicants will receive no assistance, and the most vulnerable applicants, receive fewer items. 

There is an example of a high most compelling priority assessment below . You can also find more examples under ‘high most compelling priority rating’ in the searchable directory on our website.

Case studies

High most compelling priority rating 

C asked us to review the council’s decision on their application for a community care grant. They had moved to a permanent tenancy after a period of homelessness, and needed help to furnish their home. 

The council awarded items that met the high most compelling priority level, but did not award carpets and a sofa. C requested a first-tier review of the decision, but the council did not change their original decision. 

We reviewed the council’s case file and spoke with C and their support worker for further information. 

We disagreed with the council’s assessment that a sofa did not the meet high most compelling priority rating. This was because the support worker provided evidence that C was receiving support at home several time a week, and were sitting on the bare floor. We determined that not having a sofa was detrimental to effective support being provided, which in turn, created a risk of the applicant being unable to sustain their tenancy. We changed the council’s decision and awarded C a sofa. 

We did not award carpets as we agreed that they did not meet the priority level. We also provided the council with feedback that their decision letters did not provide sufficient information about their decision, and that they had not contacted C or their support worker to collect further information.

Updated: April 17, 2024