254,000 individual households supported through Scottish Welfare Fund.
Thanks to the Scottish Welfare Fund, more than 254,000 individual households have been given grants totalling £132.6m to help them through difficult times since the scheme began in April 2013. This fund comprises Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants.
The most common reason for Community Care Grant applications is support to help people stay in the community – for example, where circumstances indicate that there is a risk of the person not being able to live independently without this help.
For Crisis Grants, the most common reason is emergency financial support where the individual has no money and there is immediate need.
In addition, in 2016 a new category of ‘Delay in payment of benefits’ was introduced. In 2016/17, just over 17,500 applications were made for this reason, accounting for around 10% of all Crisis Grant applications.
Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said:
“The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to provide a vital lifeline, supporting over a quarter of a million low-income households, who are suffering from emergency and disasters, in the last 4 years. For many, it provides much needed help for the everyday items that no one should be denied simply because of the hardship they face.
“This year we can now see clearly the impact of the UK Government’s harsh welfare cuts and a system that is broken – with around 10% of crisis funding being needed to cope with the severe impact of benefit delays. We have repeatedly warned that the UK Government’s chaotic roll out of universal credit, particularly the unreasonable 6 week wait for first payment, is having an adverse impact on people. So let me repeat again our urgent call for the UK Government to listen to the real life impact of their policies and immediately halt its roll-out, or risk pushing more households into hardship.
“It is not acceptable in 2017 that people find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own. Nor is it acceptable that the Scottish Government is having to plug a gap created by the UK Government so that we can try to keep people from even further hardship. This fund underlines our commitment to put dignity and respect at the heart of our plans for social security. We will continue to do all we can to support hard pressed families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Earlier this year the Scottish Government wrote to the UK Government requesting an immediate halt to the roll-out of the full service of Universal Credit.