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Review of the Scottish Welfare Fund Interim Scheme, 16/05/14 [S]

The Scottish Government has published a review which explores how well the interim arrangements of the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) have worked, from the perspectives of applicants to the SWF and the third sector organisations supporting them.

It also provides recommendations for the remainder of the interim period and for the permanent arrangements.

The majority of applicants were satisfied overall with the operation of the interim scheme.

Community Care Grant (CCG) applicants tended to find out about the SWF through their existing networks, including third sector organisations that they were in contact with. For Crisis Grant (CG) applicants, signposting to the SWF tended to come from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The majority of applicants and third sector organisations said that they understood the SWF and its eligibility criteria. Third sector staff welcomed that the eligibility criteria were widened and clarified after the first few months of the scheme.

The application process was generally seen as straightforward, and SWF staff were perceived as friendly and helpful. The majority of decisions were taken within target processing times, although there was some criticism of the impact of any delay. There was some concern about the costs that applicants could incur, if local authorities did not offer Freephone or call-back facilities. There were also concerns that applicants were not always sent formal decision letters.

Satisfaction with awards was high, although some rejections and partial awards meant that hardship was not always prevented. Only a small number of applicants asked for reviews of decisions, which was partly due to a lack of awareness of the review process.

The report makes a number of recommendations based on the experiences of applicants and third sector organisations. These include the need to raise the profile of the SWF; the use of anonymised case studies to provide insight into how discretion is being used; speeding up the decision making process for Crisis Grants to ensure an emergency response; and that decision letters should be sent to applicants detailing the right to review.

For full details see the Scottish Government website.

Further information

Review of the Scottish Welfare Fund Interim Scheme