The housing and homelessness charity

Shelter Scotland / England


Crisis grants

In an emergency, you can apply for a crisis grant to cover the cost of essential items that you can't afford on your regular income.

What is a crisis grant?

Crisis grants are awarded by local councils to help meet expenses after an emergency or disaster (for example, if your house burns down), or in situations in which your health and safety are threatened (for example, if you are homeless). The money comes from the Scottish Government's Scottish welfare fund.

A crisis grant could help you pay for essential things that you can't afford, such as:

  • food or clothing
  • charges for board and lodging or rent in a hostel
  • getting your gas or electricity reconnected
  • minor repairs and improvements
  • living expenses for a short period of time (for example, while you are waiting for your first benefit payment)
  • emergency travel expenses.

Most housing costs are excluded. For example, crisis grants are not awarded to pay rent in advance, deposits or rent on property you already occupy. A discretionary housing payment or a budgeting loan may be available in these situations.

Who can apply for a crisis grant?

You can apply for a crisis loan if you are 16 or over. You also need to be normally entitled to income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, savings or guaranteed pension credit, or payment on account. 

However, your local council has the power to award a crisis grant in exceptional circumstances if you're not normally entitled to these benefits. For example if you have left home because of domestic abuse.

You'll also need to show that you're in a crisis situation, and that you don't have the money to pay for your short term needs.

Applying for a crisis grant

You can apply for a crisis loan from your local council by telephone, in person or online. If a crisis grant is granted and needs to be paid in cash, the grant can be paid via a Pay Point machine.

Get advice if you need a crisis grant. There is a limited amount of money available, so it isn't easy to get a payment. An adviser may be able to:

  • help you convince the local council that you should be a priority (the rules about who gets priority are very complicated)
  • explain the forms and help you work out how much you need to ask for
  • help you to appeal if your claim is refused.

What if my crisis grant application is refused?

If your application for a crisis grant is refused, you can ask your local council to review its decision. To do this, you must:

  • apply in writing
  • apply within 20 days of the date the decision was given
  • explain clearly the reasons why you think the decision was unfair.

Your local council will arrange for a different decision maker from the one who refused the grant, to review your claim. They should let you know their decision within 15 working days. If the local council does not change its mind when it reviews the decision, you can ask them to look at it again. You need to apply to do this within 20 working days of being notified of the first review decision.

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Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

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You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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