Welfare cuts forcing more to ask for handouts

Debt couple

Fund has become a lifeline to those on the receiving end of welfare cuts 

1st August 2018 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

UK government welfare cuts are pushing more people to apply for Scottish Government handouts.

New figures show the Scottish Welfare Fund handed out £165 million last year, providing a “vital lifeline” to those in need.

Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Sommerville said she was pleased the Scottish Welfare Fund had been able to provide support but aired her anger that welfare cuts were pushing more people into poverty.

The fund is a discretionary scheme administered by local authorities with two types of grant available: crisis grants to meet short term need and community grants which cover costs arising from care needs and also one off expenses such as cash for household appliances.  

More than £2m was paid out to help with the cost of heating and eating in the first three months of this year alone.

In total, 296,520 households across the country have been helped by the Scottish Welfare Fund since it was created in April 2013, receiving awards totalling £164.8m.

Over the financial year 2017-18, the fund paid out £32.7m, including £23.6m on community care grants, which help families facing exceptional pressures with one-off costs such as a cooker or washing machine.

A further £9.1m went on crisis grants, which aid those struggling with the costs of heating, eating and other basic living expenses.

One in 10 of those applying for a crisis grant in the period January to March needed help because of delays to their benefit payments.

Sommerville said: “Any of us can face an unexpected expense. But that is harder to absorb if you are already struggling to survive.

“At those times it is only right that government offers support rather than a cold shoulder. That is why the Scottish Government created the Scottish Welfare Fund, a vital lifeline for people in times of need.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, added: “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.

"The fact that 174,155 applications for crisis grants were made – over 9,000 more than last year – shows the sheer scale of just how many households in Scotland continue to struggle to make ends meet and keep a roof over their heads.

“Even more worrying is another huge increase - 46% - in the recorded reason for applying for a crisis grant as being "emergency - nowhere to stay and may resort to rough sleeping". This has more than doubled in the last two years.”