Households in crisis as fund applications soar

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil
Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil

A Scottish Government fund set up to provide assistance to those suffering hardship has seen a massive increase in applications.

The Scottish Welfare 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.

There were 1723 applications to the fund from West Lothian last year, according to the latest statistics.

Crisis grants averaged around £70 per award, mostly for food and heating costs, and were claimed because of an emergency.

They included £980,000 of grants for food and £7000 for nappies and toiletries.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Alex Neil said: “That anyone should be living in poverty in a wealthy country is completely unacceptable and we’ll continue to tackle poverty and inequality to create a more prosperous and fairer society.

“Scottish Welfare Fund grants are a lifeline for people in crisis to buy everyday items or cover basic living costs that so many of us take for granted.

“This is why we are taking steps to establish the Fund in law through the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill.

“One in 20 households (120,000) in Scotland have now been helped by the Scottish Welfare Fund in its first 18 months of operation.

“The increase in applications is due, in part, to work done by councils and advice services to raise awareness of the fund.”