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?

A crisis grant can be awarded to meet expenses that have arisen as a result of an emergency / disaster in order to avoid serious damage / risk to health or safety of you or your family.

Examples of situations that might mean you are eligible for a Crisis grant:

  • benefits money has been spent, for example on visiting a sick child in hospital, and the family have no money to buy food, gas and electricity until the next benefit payment and there are children in the household.

  • you are fleeing domestic abuse and need immediate help.

  • you are a grandparent or other relative who is in work but has taken on care of a child/children and a transfer of the benefits for the children is pending.

  • you have received the outcome of a fit for work assessment for Employment Support Allowance and are not in receipt of benefits while they consider an appeal.

  • you have a gap in regular income, for example due to redundancy or a significant change in working pattern.

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

  • costs, that are not covered by other Local Authority obligations relating to homelessness, for accommodation 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?

To be eligible for a crisis grant need to be 16 or over, be on a low income and not have any access to any other appropriate source of finance. 

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 grant 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.

  • 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 working 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.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 30 May 2019

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England