Thousands turn to crisis grants as welfare cuts hit hard

170310 jeane freeman msp

Social security minister Jeane Freeman 

​Figures show thousands turn to emergency support as welfare cuts get tighten 

25th July 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

More people are turning to the Scottish Government for emergency cash handouts, new figures show.  

Statistics reveal the Scottish Welfare Fund has helped 254,000 individual households since it was launched in 2013.

Grants totaling £132.6m were given for two categories: crisis grants and community care.

The most common reason for community care 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, emergency financial support is given 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 four years.

“This year we can now see clearly the impact of the UK governments 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.

“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.”

Adam Lang, head of communications and policy at Shelter Scotland, said: "These funds provide a vital lifeline of support for many struggling households, but today's figures are yet another sign of the human cost to Scotland's housing crisis.

“A 15% increase in applications for crisis grants is 21,560 more households than last year needing help to keep a roof over their heads.

“Even more worrying is the 46% increase in the recorded reason for applying for a crisis grant as being "emergency - nowhere to stay and may resort to rough sleeping.

"We know that high housing costs combined with low income and stagnant wages is pushing more and more households into poverty and putting them at greater risk of homelessness.”

Dean Craig from the Anti Cuts Network said more people were being forced to get emergency help becuase of “cruel” welfare cuts. 

“This proves the UK government is cruelly, slowly, turning the screw on those who are the most needy. 

“Without this kind of help people on benefits, many of whom are disabled, would be left destitute.”