More support for people on low incomes.
The amount paid out in crisis grants to people in need increased by more than three quarters in the early stages of lockdown, latest figures show.
The Scottish Welfare Fund awarded £5.2 million in crisis grants between April and June 2020, up 77 per cent on the same period last year.
The number of crisis grants rose by 63 per cent over the quarter, peaking in April when twice as many were awarded than in April 2019.
The most common reason given by applicants, covering 45 per cent of cases, was that they had exhausted their usual income and benefits.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“These latest figures demonstrate that we were right to ensure our Scottish Welfare Fund was increased - just one of many actions taken to ensure there is additional financial support to people coping with the economic impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).
“The leading reason people apply for emergency help is that their benefits or other income has been spent.
“While the Scottish Government works to improve provision for children and families facing poverty, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from UK benefit cuts.
“We are introducing the Scottish Child Payment to tackle child poverty head on, opening for applications next month, with the first payments to start from February 2021. Together with the Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods, this will provide over £5,200 of financial support for families by the time their first child turns six – and more than £4,900 for second and subsequent children.”
The Scottish Welfare Fund is distributed by local authorities and provides Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants. Crisis Grants help families on low incomes with unexpected expenses arising out of an emergency or a disaster. Community Care Grants help those on low incomes live independently in the community or help people maintain their home in the face of exceptional pressure.
Since the Scottish Welfare Fund scheme began on 1 April 2013, 393,350 individual households have received awards totalling £246.4 million up to 30 June 2020. A third of households receiving an award were families with children, while just over half were single person households with no children.