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Scottish Welfare Fund decisions and reviews go to consultation

22 November 2013

Applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund and options for independent scrutiny of decisions by local authorities are the subject of a new consultation by the Scottish Government.

Introduced from April 2013 on an interim basis using local authorities’ powers along with ministerial guidance the Scottish Welfare Fund provides two forms of help: to vulnerable members of the community in a financial emergency, and support to get household goods to set up home or remain at home, to help avoid the need for care.

Ministers now want to put the Fund on a statutory footing, and this consultation, which includes a draft bill, is the first step in the legislative process. It seeks views on which elements of the current ministerial guidance for the Fund should be set out in regulations and which in statutory guidance. It also seeks views on options for independent scrutiny (“second tier review”) of decisions made by local authorities on applications to the Fund.

Matters proposed to be included in regulations include eligibility criteria, financial calculations, situations where a grant might be given, the decision making process, arrangements for review, and discretionary awards. The proposed options for review are a panel based in local government but with independent members, the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, and a specially created tribunal.

Ministers intend to introduce a bill into the Scottish Parliament in 2014 that will include the basis for independent scrutiny of local authority decisions, followed by regulations and statutory guidance that will set out the operational detail of the Fund – all informed by the consultation responses.

Click here to view the consultation. Responses are invited by 7 February 2014.

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