Families living in poverty that are local to the area along with people in a crisis can apply for help from the Welfare Fund. There are grants, either Crisis or Community Care, provided to people with an emergency to help them meet short tern needs. The scheme also provides loans to Fife families that are applying to Universal Credit, and this is offered by DWP.
The welfare scheme will only pay for certain living expenses, and it is available at most three times in a 12 month period of time. It will issue a voucher to the family for their needs, and over 500 households on the archipelago normally receive financial help. If this form of assistance, which may be a parcel or food, clothing, card to pay for heating costs, or similar items is not enough, then families can still seek additional financial help from DWP. The aim is to ensure the person continues to live independently.
Types of help from welfare grants and DWP
The two organisations, including DWP as well as the Fife council, work together to help needy families. Both of them are for emergency situations only, and the funding given to the council and region is limited. So many families will meet meet the criteria for a grant.
Welfare is available from two separate programmes. There are Crisis and Community Care Grants. The aid is given mostly in the form of vouchers or in kid support. This means that the council will not provide money to the applicant. However, there can be some situations such as an exceptional hardship in which cash on a pre-paid card is given. This will always be done at the discretion of the Fife Islands council.
Vouchers from the grant based scheme mostly help with essential items. This can be different for each family on the archipelago. Some people consider essential items to be food, while others may need clothing. The council may also help the resident by giving them bedding, furniture, or white goods.
Bills may be paid too. In some instances, the person can be given support from the Crisis Grants for paying some bills, such as energy. However the DWP is more likely to provide assistance for heating needs from the cold weather or winter fuel payment scheme. Another use of the grant is to provide for household supplies such as nappies and toiletries.
When a living expense is paid by the Fife welfare scheme, other social services are provided too. Clients will be given free advice on managing advice and debts. This will help them rebuild their credit and gain the skills needed for stability.
The grants from the Fife council will not need to be repaid, unless there is fraud. In these cases all assistance given needs to be returned. The local authorities will investigate this closely as well.
Since the annual funds from the central government and Scottish Welfare Fund are limited, once the grants are exhausted for that year no other financial aid is given. In lieu of that, the specialists at the council will refer the resident to foodbanks, charities such as the Salvation Army, and other local programmes including DWP loans.
Anyone applying for the local welfare scheme needs to be over the age of 16 and also not be subject to immigration control. They need to be out of all other resources, including from charities, and have no recourse to other public funds. They also need to be a resident of the council area.
There are two places to apply for the welfare scheme or a loan. One is to drop in at the main office (either council or DWP), or people can ring 0300 555 0265 Monday to Friday. The application will be approved within 2 to 15 days.