Emergency welfare funding statistics highlight plight of struggling households
Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland said the underlying causes of poverty must be tackled as new figures revealed nearly a third of a million low income households accessed emergency funding to help with the costs of essentials such as food and heating in the past six years.
The Scottish Welfare Fund has paid out in excess of £190 million to more than 326,000 households since its first payment on 1 April 2013.
Grants are also given to people facing disaster or emergency situations like flooding, and to families facing exceptional pressure with one-off costs for items including beds, washing machines or cookers.
Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the statistics show that increasing numbers of households across Scotland continue to struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over their head.
He added: “These grants are a vital lifeline for many facing job insecurity, zero-hour contracts, harsh welfare reforms, low pay and the high cost of housing.
“For a fairer society, we need to tackle the underlying causes that are driving people to ask for help.”
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville added: “The fact that so many households in Scotland are in need of emergency financial help is appalling, and a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.
“As their welfare cuts continue to cause harm and damage, we continue to do our best to mitigate against them and provide financial support to low income families and carers through new social security benefits.
“We are using our limited powers to ensure Universal Credit in Scotland gives people some control over their payments, and our Financial Health Check is providing personalised advice on money matters to help those on low incomes maximise their finances.
“That is why we will again provide local authorities with £38m in 2019-20 to support hard pressed families who, through no fault of their own, need help to simply get by.”