Scottish Welfare Fund news - May 2024

During April our Scottish Welfare Fund team 

  • responded to 88 enquiries
  • made 72 decisions
    • 30 community care grants
    • 42 crisis grants
  • upheld 17 (57%) of community care grants and 13 (31%) of crisis grants 
  • signposted an additional 61 applicants to other sources of assistance. The majority of these were calling us instead of their local council in error. Other applicants struggled to contact their local council as there was no freephone number in place or the phone line was busy
  • received nine enquiries from local council liaison contacts seeking advice on the guidance

Case studies

This month we handled two reviews where we considered that the council should have treated an applicant’s two crisis grant applications made in quick succession, as one period of crisis. In one of these cases, we changed our own original decision following a reconsideration request from a representative. This example can be found below. You can also find more examples under ‘When two crisis grant applications should have been treated as one’ in the searchable directory on our website.

When two crisis grant applications should have been treated as one

C, a welfare rights officer for the applicant (A), asked for an independent review of the council’s decision on their crisis grant application. A had applied for assistance stating that they had a benefits sanction applied and had not received any income. 

The council refused the application on the basis that A had received the maximum assistance normally available, and they did not assess the circumstances of the current application met the exceptional circumstances criteria set out in 7.21 to 7.23 of the guidance. 

We reviewed the council’s file and contacted C for additional information. C explained that the sanction had been applied for missing an appointment with the job coach, and they were in the process of appealing that decision. They also noted that A should have been receiving a health element in their benefits, but this had not been applied, so A was experiencing a shortfall in their income. 

We concluded that the council’s decision to refuse the application was correct, and agreed that C’s circumstances were not exceptional compared with previous applications. This was because C had previously applied for a crisis grant due to benefit sanctions. We did not uphold the review request and did not identify any feedback for the council. 

C subsequently requested a reconsideration of the decision, stating that two of A's previous awards should have been treated as one period of crisis in line with section 7.23 of the guidance. We agreed with this viewpoint, after reviewing the application history, and contacting the Department for Work and Pensions for further information. We changed our original decision based on this new information and instructed the council to make an award.


Updated: May 22, 2024