Moray Council reprioritises welfare funds for those most in need

Moray Council reprioritises welfare funds for those most in need

Moray Council is introducing an increased level of prioritisation of welfare grants to ensure those with the highest rating of need are supported.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is administered by Moray Council on behalf of the Scottish Government through crisis grants and community care grants. While the Fund is regulated nationally, local authorities have discretion on how they administer the fund so that it can be tailored to suit local needs.

Now, demand for the grants has become so high that Moray’s welfare team is seeing unprecedented pressures on the scheme, which has just over £440,000 to distribute in 2023/24. While the Scottish Welfare Fund is intended as a scheme of last resort when all other financial support has been exhausted, it has become a major source of income for many families finding themselves without cash for essentials such as food.

There is just over £53,000 left in the pot for 2023/24 and council officers have warned that the final quarter of the year is often when the highest demand is experienced.

Chair of Moray Council’s Corporate Committee, Cllr Bridget Mustard, says the situation is replicated in local authorities across Scotland: “Many people face unforeseen circumstances or events that mean they struggle financially short-term, and these crisis grants are there to help get them to their next regular payment. However, we heard of the increasing number of people turning to the Fund for support longer-term, which is not sustainable under the terms of these grants.

“Our welfare officers have a difficult job in determining applications based on need and within their budget constraints, and in providing wider support to those needing assistance. It was made clear at committee that elected members back them in moving towards ensuring those at the highest end of the scale get the support they need.”

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