Scottish Welfare Fund pays out £26m to struggling Scots in nine months
More than £26 million in grants have been issued in nine months through the Scottish Welfare Fund to help Scottish households in need.
Figures released by the Scottish Government show the cash, issued between April 1 and December 31 last year, equates to three-quarters of the total fund available for 2016/17 and is £1.8m more than was awarded in the same period the previous year.
The fund comprises Community Care Grants – which help people to live independently – and Crisis Grants, which provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency.
The figures show the number of crisis grants requested are rising while the number of community care grants are falling.
A total of 37,000 crisis grant applications were received in the final three months of 2016, up 11% on the same period the previous year.
Applications for community care grants fell by four percentage points in the same period, with 15,600 applications received between October and December 2016.
About 10,500 of the community care awards were made, a success rate of 61%.
Payouts averaged £564 and were typically for floor coverings, beds, soft furnishings, white goods and furniture.
Crisis grant applications had a success rate of 70%, with an average award of £78. Most expenditure was on food, essential heating costs and other living expenses.
Social security minister Jeane Freeman said: “Nobody chooses to rely on grants but at times of crisis its essential the right support is there to help those who need it most and that’s what the Scottish Welfare Fund does - it provides support for those who desperately need it.
“It is a vital lifeline for people in times of need and helps with everyday necessities, such as food, nappies or heating, that many of us take for granted.
“Since April 2013, £124m has been spent helping more than 241,000 households across the country.
“We have recently had to extend the fund on an interim basis to ensure housing support is provided to 18 to 21 year-olds who will no longer receive financial assistance with housing costs under Universal Credit.
“It is completely unacceptable that people find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own and we will continue to do all we can to support hard-pressed families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.”