Nearly a third of a million low income households have accessed emergency funding to help with the costs of essentials such as food and heating in the past six years.
Figures show that 7,695 Community Care Grants and 23,520 Crisis Grants had been awarded to North Ayrshire residents by the end of 2018.
The SNP Government’s Scottish Welfare Fund has paid out in excess of £190 million to more than 326,000 households since its first payment on 01 April 2013.
The Scottish Welfare Fund comprises of two grants:
1. Community Care Grant - to, among other things, help people set up home in the community, or help families facing exceptional pressures. The most common expenditures are on floor coverings, beds and bedding, and kitchen appliances such as cookers, fridges, freezers and washing machines.
2. Crisis Grant - to help people on low incomes in crisis because of a disaster or an emergency. A disaster is something like a fire or a flood. An emergency might be when money has been stolen. For crisis grants, awards are for food, essential heating and other living expenses
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP said:
“We are using our limited powers to ensure Universal Credit in Scotland gives people some control over their payments, and our Financial Health Check is providing personalised advice on money matters to help those on low incomes maximise their finances.
“That is why we will provide local authorities with £38 million in 2019-20 to support hard pressed families who, through no fault of their own, need help to simply get by.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The fact that so many households in North Ayrshire and across Scotland are in need of emergency financial help is appalling, and a sad indictment of the UK Tory Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.
“As their welfare cuts continue to cause harm, the SNP Government in Holyrood continues to do its best to mitigate against them and provide financial support to low income families and carers through new social security benefits.
“Unfortunately, money that has to be diverted to protect people against these savage Tory cuts is money that cannot be put into education, health care and infrastructure – but we believe that helping those who are most in need is the right thing to do, always.”
Since the Scottish Welfare Fund was set up, over half of those households receiving awards were single person households with no children, and one third of those households included children.
The Draft Scottish Budget for 2019/20 commits £33 million to the Scottish Welfare Fund for grants, and £5 million is provided to local authorities for administration.