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More than 200,000 households helped thanks to scheme.
More than 200,000 low income households have received grants to help them through difficult times, thanks to the Scottish Welfare Fund.
New figures show that since the scheme was set up in April 2013, £97.9 million worth of grants have been given to nearly 204,000 households in Scotland.
The fund aims to help households during times of crisis, and can help them to buy everyday essential items like food, nappies or toiletries and to cover heating costs or other living expenses. Grants are also given to people facing disaster or emergency situations, such as flooding.
People can also be given support to live in their own homes where there’s a risk of homelessness or going into care or for families facing exceptional pressures – where funding can cover larger essential one-off items like washing machines or cookers.
Around one-third of grants were given to households with children, while around 54% of those grants were given to single person households with no children.
Social Security Secretary Angela Constance said:
“No-one in Scotland should be living in poverty, and it is crucial that we are able to give support to those most in need, when they need it.
“This can be especially important in times of desperation or emergency, or when people have been affected by delays in benefits.
“The Scottish Welfare Fund provides a vital lifeline to families during times of crisis, and helps people in desperate situations where they cannot afford to buy everyday items, such as food or nappies, that many of us take for granted.
“It is important this money gets to those who need it most, and that is why, from April this year, we have made changes to the way funding is allocated to local authorities, to ensure it reaches those people who most need it.”
In 2015-16, there was a total underspend of £1.5 million, which had reduced from £2 million in 2014-15, and £4.4 million in 2013-14. Any funding not spent within the financial year can be carried forward by the local authority into the next year.
From April 2016 there have been changes to the way that funding is distributed to local authorities so that it is more closely aligned to deprivation data, to allow funding to be available where it is most needed. This should help to reduce the underspend in future years.