Welfare crisis as grants mount up

More than 100,000 vulnerable households, including 32,000 families with children, have received essential help from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Since the scheme first launched, 70,000 households have received crisis grants and 43,000 have received community care grants.

Crisis grants provide a safety net to low income households in a disaster or emergency, while community care grants, help people to live independently.

For the most recent quarter April to June 2014, crisis grants averaged around £70 per award. They were mostly for food and heating costs and were claimed because of an emergency.They included £980,000 of grants given out for food – up from £300,000 during the same period last year – and £7,000 for nappies and toiletries.

Community care grants averaged around £640 per award. These were mostly claimed by people to help them stay in their own home or by families facing exceptional pressures.

They included £1.8 million in grants awarded for the refit of carpets and flooring; £2 million for cookers, washing machines and fridges; and £130,000 for clothing and shoes.

One in four households receiving the awards had a recorded vulnerability such as a disability, chronic illness, mental health issue or a lone parent.

Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said: “It is heart breaking to see the impacts of welfare reforms laid bare, with people coming forward and applying for help to buy everything from food to shoes to beds.

“It is totally unacceptable that in a country as wealthy as Scotland anyone should be living in poverty.

“People are unable to afford items that many of us take for granted.

“These figures show that demand for the Welfare Fund is high and is reaching out to those in the most deprived areas of Scotland.

“That’s why it is important that we take forward our new Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill to set out how welfare funds will operate within local authorities to help those most in need.”

If you feel the Scottish Welfare Fund could help you contact your local council.

Scotland’s 32 local authorities currently administer the fund on behalf of the Scottish Government.