Over 150,000 households given Scottish Welfare Fund assistance

Margaret Burgess
Margaret Burgess

More than 150,000 vulnerable households, including around 50,000 families with children, have received essential help to buy everyday products like nappies, food and cookers through the Scottish Welfare Fund.

The fund consists of crisis grants, which provide a safety net to low income households in a disaster or emergency, and community care grants, which help people to live independently.

New figures have revealed that since the scheme began in April 2013, £65 million has been spent, with 105,000 households receiving crisis grants and 72,000 households receiving community care grants.

Between April 2014 and March 2015, 69,000 households received crisis grants averaging around £70. These were mostly for food and energy costs and were claimed because of emergencies.

Almost £3.9m of grants were given out for food, which was up from £2.4m from the previous year. Around £23,000 was spent on nappies, an increase from £17,200. And nearly £1.3m was spent on energy costs, up from £826,000 the year before.

Around 43,000 households received Community Care Grants averaging at £600 each. These awards were most likely to be claimed by people looking for help to stay in or set up their own home, or families facing exceptional pressures.

Welfare minister Margaret Burgess said: “These grants are a vital lifeline for people in crisis with more than 150,000 households benefitting from a share of the £65m Scottish Welfare Fund.

“It is helping people in desperate situations buy everyday items like food, shoes and beds, and keeping them afloat during worrying times.

“The Scottish Government will continue to work with councils to publicise this scheme and reach those who are struggling to be able to afford items that many of us take for granted.

“While the UK Government presses ahead with its austerity agenda and continues to widen the gap in inequalities, the Scottish Government will continue to try to militate against the worst of the impacts of the UK cuts, including investing £296m in mitigation schemes, extending our free childcare and encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage.

“As part of our drive to tackle inequalities we are also asking people for ideas on how we can create a fairer, healthier, happier Scotland where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally.”

Councillor Harry McGuigan, COSLA’s community and well-being spokesperson, added: “There is a growing number of people using the fund to buy the most basic of items like food, beds and cookers.

“Councils and the advice sector make sure those in need know where to get this vital help. Given the planned social security cuts, the fund will come under considerable pressure as more people require help over the next few years.

“Councils are committed to providing the best support to those in need that we can, both direct financial help, as well as advice and referrals.”

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