Financial support covers a lot of areas
- Aids and adaptations
- Carers’ allowance
- Childcare costs
- Cost of living crisis & debt management
- Council tax reduction
- Education financial support
- Fuel bills
- Grant funding
- Home improvements
- Travel and Transport costs
- VAT exemption on goods
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Aids and Adaptations
You do not always have to pay for small pieces of equipment like grab rails or adapted kitchen equipment – these can often be obtained for free from St John’s Hospital Community Equipment Store, although others may require an assessment by an Occupational Therapist first.
For larger items, like sports wheelchairs, you may be able to get a grant. See ‘Grants for Funding’ below for some funders who can help.
The subject of benefits is too complicated for us to advise on here. You should always get advice from experts about how to apply. Low income families, people with long-term health conditions and their carers may be eligible, but the interplay of different benefits is complex.
There are now 12 benefits that are handled by Social Security Scotland, and you can read about them in this brief guide, or there is a more detailed overview of all available benefits on this page at mygov.scot. The main ones to consider are Child Disability Payment (was Disability Living Allowance) and Carers’ Allowance.
Social Security Scotland’s Local Delivery service can provide advice or support with making an application over the phone, by video, home visit or at the below venues (by appointment only). Please call 0800 182 222 to book.
West Lothian Council’s welfare team can also help by doing a full benefit check for you (call 01506 280000 and ask to be put through to the team).
Citizen’s Advice offer free, confidential, independent and impartial welfare rights advice to patients and their family/carers who are attending St John’s hospital. They can also offer more general advice at their office in Shiel Walk, Livingston.
Parents often don’t consider themselves to be ‘carers’, but you may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you are over 16 and regularly provide care for at least 35 hours per week to a disabled child or adult.
Carers Allowance can affect other benefits you receive and the benefits of the person you care for. You should check with a benefits advisor if you are unsure otherwise the person you care for could have their benefits reduced.
Carers Allowance Supplement is an extra payment paid to carers in Scotland who receive Carers Allowance. It is paid automatically twice a year.
To claim Carers Allowance online, go to: carersallowance.service.gov.uk/
Your child is eligible for up to 1140 hours of pre-school provision from the start of first term after their 2nd birthday if you are in receipt of certain income based benefits.
Full information is available at: westlothian.gov.uk/apply-for-an-elc-place
Cost of Living Crisis and Debt Management
Online, for advice about coping with debt, the Scottish Government has a list of organisations who can help here.
The Scottish Government’s Cost of Living website provides additional information and support for people who need urgent help with money, food or fuel.
Money Saving Expert has lots of information on every aspect of saving money.
Moneyhelper discusses managing your money when you have poor mental health.
Council Tax Reduction
You may qualify for a disabled person’s reduction if your child requires special provision in your house e.g. a room which is adapted to be safe for a child who damages themselves or the furniture.
Full details can be found on West Lothian Council’s disabled person’s reduction page.
If you can’t afford school uniform or a winter coat for your child, the School Bank accepts referrals from professionals in the community such as Head Teachers, Social Workers, Housing Officers, Womens Aid, Health Visitors and other agencies including West Lothian Council, Citizens Advice Bureau, Homestart and the Advice Shop in Bathgate, so ask for support from one of these agencies. The School Bank staff do not liaise directly with families.
Education Maintenance Allowance
EMA is financial support for eligible 16 to 19 year olds who want to continue learning.
EMA is an allowance of up to £30 per week, depending on household income, paid directly to the young person for every complete week that they remain in education after school leaving age. Household income is assessed in the same way as for Inland Revenue Working Tax Credits. EMA does not affect other benefits – it is currently paid over and above Child Benefit and other benefits.
You cannot get an EMA until you have reached your school leaving age.
EMAs can be paid for up to 3 years and up to 4 years for students with additional support needs.
If you reach your 20th birthday whilst receiving an EMA, payments will stop from the week after your 20th birthday. Income thresholds change each year, so always check the EMA Scotland website for up to date information.
Your application should be made through your school or college, depending on where you are learning.
Moving on to college/university
School leavers moving on to full time higher education who have additional support needs may qualify for Disabled Student Allowance or other support (for example, a place in a hall of residence if they have mobility issues). Your chosen college or University should have a student welfare officer who can advise you. It is advisable to plan ahead and contact your chosen place of study as soon as possible, as arrangements can take some time to put in place.
If you are finding it difficult to afford food, you can ask a local agency to refer you to a local foodbank and issue a voucher for food. The procedure for accessing West Lothian Foodbank is here. You must get a referral.
There are also ‘community fridges’ and other local initiatives scattered across West Lothian, so ask locally if there is one near you or check this map.
There is a variety of assistance available with fuel bills, and what is on offer changes regularly, so you should seek support from an advisor at any of West Lothian’s Partnership Centres or at Citizen’s Advice. The notes below explain some of the most common options.
Child Winter Heating Assistance
Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit from the Scottish Government. It’s a payment to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter. It’s paid once a year. The payment for winter 2022-2023 is £214.10
Children and young people in Scotland can get the assistance if they’re under 19 years old and get one of the following qualifying benefits:
- The highest rate of the care component of Child Disability Payment
- The enhanced daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
They must be getting this on at least one day in the third full week of September.
If there is more than one child or young person in your household who qualifies, they each get a payment.
Eligible children and young people living in Scotland do not need to apply. They’ll get their payment automatically and it will usually be made into the same bank account as their Child Disability Payment or Personal Independence Payment.
You’ll get a letter from Social Security Scotland before the payment is made.
Winter Heating Payments
This payment, from the Scottish Government, replaces the Cold Weather Payment in Scotland. Winter Heating Payment is to help people on low income benefits who might have extra heating needs. Social Security Scotland pays this to people living in Scotland.
It replaces the Cold Weather Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and has the same eligibility requirements.
Unlike the Cold Weather Payment, Winter Heating Payment does not depend on how cold the temperature gets, and it will not affect the payment of other benefits.
Winter Heating Payment is a yearly payment of £50 that’s paid automatically if you receive qualifying benefits.
Warm Homes discount
You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October and March.
You can qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme if you’re on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme. Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount. You can still qualify for the discount if you use a pre-pay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter. Your electricity supplier can tell you how you’ll get the discount if you’re eligible, for example a voucher you can use to top up your meter.
Grants for fuel bills/arrears
Citizen’s Advice has a list of funders who may be able to help with fuel bills, but take advice for an up to date picture of availability.
You can ask a grant funder for whatever you need, subject to their own rules. The Family Fund seem the most open to unusual requests, if you can show how the item would benefit your child.
Each funder has their own rules (read carefully and make sure you do what is asked), but most will need similar information which you can get ready before you apply:
(a) a letter from a professional who can tell them about how your child’s disability affects them and how they would benefit from having whatever you are requesting
(b) some information about your income/expenditure
(c) one or two price quotes (can be website pages) showing the cost of the item you are asking them to help with.
- Whizz-Kidz specialises in wheelchairs.
- Challenger Children’s Fund physically disabled children under 18, max £500
- Family Fund – children with high support needs under 18, from low income families
- Cash for Kids – Forth Radio grants, under 18s, sometimes flexible about unusual requests
- Newlife – equipment loans or grants, and free 12 -week loans of specialist toys
- Independent Living Fund (ILF) has a technology grant for 16-25 year olds, or a transition grant which can be used to fund other types of equipment, subject to certain conditions
Other places to look for funding:
- Disability Grants UK – search the children’s section, grants for lots of different things
- Turn2Us grants search and benefits checker
Ensure you and your child are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to – Child Disability Payment could be used for more specialised items for your child.
West Lothian Council has a budget every year to install equipment and adaptations to homes if the tenant or a member of the tenant’s family require help. Sometimes the Council can also assist with adaptation costs if you are a home-owner.
A Community Occupational Therapist from the Council can visit you in your home to carry out an assessment of your/your child’s needs. A referral can be made by anyone via the OT Duty Team on 01506 284848, Option 2.
This service involves an assessment of needs and where it is appropriate, provides equipment and adaptations to improve levels of ability and to promote a safer environment. This enables children, adults and older people with physical, mental and/or learning disabilities to be as independent as possible in their own home.
If your child is disabled or has a long-term illness, you won’t be charged VAT on products designed or adapted for their use. Also, you won’t be charged VAT on:
- the installation and any extra work needed as part of this (e.g. wet-room or stairlift)
- repairs or maintenance
- spare parts or accessories
To get the product VAT free your disability has to qualify. For VAT purposes, you’re disabled or have a long-term illness if:
- you have a physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out everyday activities, for example blindness
- you have a condition that’s treated as chronic sickness, like diabetes
- you’re terminally ill
You don’t qualify if you’re elderly but able-bodied, or if you’re temporarily disabled. You’ll need to confirm in writing that you meet these conditions. Your supplier may give you a form for this.