Charities unite in open letter to First Minister calling on Winter Support Fund
As the Scottish Government’s Resilience Committee prepares to meet for its weekly meeting to discuss the progress being made to address the worsening cost of living crisis, Action for Children has united with charities across Scotland to urge the First Minister to invest in a Winter Support Fund.
The charities state this emergency funding is needed to help the most vulnerable families weather a harrowing winter amidst the cost-of-living crisis and soaring energy prices.
In the letter sent to the First Minister today, the coalition of seven charities (Action for Children, Aberlour, Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st, One Parent Families Scotland, Save the Children UK and Who Cares? Scotland) appealed to the Scottish Government to establish a much-needed Winter Support Fund as it did in 2021.
The letter addressed to Nicola Sturgeon warns many families will suffer a “harrowing and alarming winter” as they contend with skyrocketing bills and urges the government to provide a lifeline in the form of a Winter Support Fund. While Scotland’s poverty targets will also be hampered unless further support is given.
The correspondence points out that the scale of the financial challenge ahead is at least as serious as the pandemic and so the level of support must match what has been delivered previously. The Scottish Government’s £41 million Winter Support Fund prescribed last year was a crucial last line of support for struggling families and allowed charities to reach the most vulnerable children and families.
Last year the Winter Support Fund enabled Action for Children to give financial support to many families. One parent of two daughters who received support said: “The vouchers have made all the difference as I had been so worried about not having enough food and presents for the girls at Christmas.”
One mother who also received winter support last year commented: “I can’t thank you enough, the support gave us a lifeline the vouchers really softened the blow with shopping and managing so tightly and I feel that this year is harder than last.”
Action for Children and the other charities backing the letter are already witnessing record requests for support and that will inevitably increase further as energy bills and food prices continue to soar throughout autumn and into Scotland’s cold winter.
Paul Carberry, Action for Children’s director for Scotland, shed light on the growing crisis and the need for further governmental intervention. He said: “The families we support are already under enormous pressure and are now set to face a relentless wave of energy price hikes and inflation all while coping with the colder weather.
“We are seeing more and more frightened families who are reaching crisis point. Some parents are coming to us in tears, terrified about how they are going to feed their children. Many of these families have already cut back to the bone and have nowhere left to cut.
“That is why we are calling on the Scottish Government, to renew the lifeline they gave last year to keep families afloat. By investing in a Winter Support Fund this year, it will give families some much needed help and assurances over the coldest and darkest months ahead.”
The open letter notes the current support the Scottish Government has provided it also informs the First Minister that the charities are also pushing the UK Government to take similar immediate action. They promise to continue to hold both the Scottish and UK Government to account in ensuring families have the necessary support during the difficult months ahead.