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Scottish Welfare Fund provides grants to those most in need.
Nearly £210 million has been paid to 347,045 low income households by the Scottish Welfare Fund since it was established in 2013, latest figures show.
Crisis grant applications to the fund for basic essentials such as food and heating increased by 12% from April to June compared to the same period last year.
In addition, for the first time exceptional pressure is the main reason for Community Care Grant applications. Previously, the biggest reason for these applications was helping people to stay in their community.
The fund, which enables local authorities to provide grants for people on low incomes, is part of the Scottish Government’s mitigation efforts for UK Government welfare cuts. Estimates suggest social security spending in Scotland is set to reduce by £3.7 billion per year by 2021.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“These are yet more signals of how much families are struggling.
“In the face of UK Government cuts and with the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit still alive – the risk is real that tens of thousands more people could be pushed into poverty in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government will not stand by and let people who are already struggling continue to face a reliance on food banks and the stress of debt and rent arrears.
“We will continue to spend at least £100 million each year to mitigate the worst effects of the UK government welfare cuts – part of the £1.4 billion we spent last year to support low income households.
“This is money we should be able to invest elsewhere to help pull people out of poverty but we instead we need to use to protect the poorest and most vulnerable in our country.
“And we are introducing the Scottish Child Payment to tackle child poverty head on. But there is no doubt that without the cuts inflicted on families by the UK Government this could go so much further.”
The Scottish Welfare Fund helps families and people in Scotland who are on low incomes through Community Care Grants, which support people to start to live, or to carry on living, a settled life in the community and Crisis Grants, for disasters (like a fire or flood), or emergencies (like an unexpected expense).
For the first time since the Fund was established in 2013, the main reason for Community Care Grant applications was ‘Families facing exceptional pressure’ (6,585, 36% of applications and a 17% increase in applications compared to April-June 18). This has replaced ‘Helping people to stay in the community’ (6,475, 35% of applications and 6% increase in applications compared to April-June 18).
The other recorded reasons for applying for a Community Care Grant were: moving out of a residential or institutional accommodation: 6% (13% decrease in applications compared to April-June 18); Planned resettlement after an unsettled way of life: 10% (2% decrease in applications compared to April-June 18); Caring for a prisoner/offender on temporary release: less than one percent of applications
Other: 12% (11% increase in applications compared to April-June 18).
The annual budget for awards under the Scottish Welfare Fund is £34.9 million.
The 2019 Annual Report on Welfare Reform shows UK Government welfare changes are set to reduce spending on social security in Scotland by £500 million a year. The report shows the largest welfare cuts since 2015 are as a result of the benefit freeze, two-child cap, and changes to the work allowance.