More than 300,000 households in Scotland have been awarded emergency financial assistance to pay for basics such as food since 2013, official figures have revealed.
Over £181 million was handed out from the Scottish Welfare Fund during the last five years, with Holyrood ministers claiming it was a “sad indictment” of cuts made to benefit payments by the UK Government.
The fund pays out grants via local authorities with the aim of which helping individuals in crisis to buy everyday essential items like food or toiletries.
Statistics released today showed from 1 July to 30 September last year, 9,495 community care grants and 28,950 crisis grants were made by local authorities.
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The most common expenditure for a community care grant was for floor coverings, bedding, and kitchen appliances. While crisis grants awards were for food, essential heating and other living expenses.
Social security secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The fact that nearly a third of a million households in Scotland have required help from the Scottish Welfare Fund is a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on welfare cuts.
“While it is absolutely right that we should help those individuals and families who find themselves in dire financial straits, it is appalling that so many find themselves in that position in the first place.
“The figures also highlight the very real consequence of the UK Government’s maladministration of UK benefits system. Delays and errors in payments are forcing people to turn to the Scottish Welfare Fund to get them through immediate hardship.
“That is why we will provide local authorities with £33 million in the next financial year – to support hard pressed families who, through no fault of their own, need help to simply get by.”
Scottish Labour’s Social Security spokesperson, Mark Griffin MSP, said: “Thousands of people across Scotland are struggling to get by after years of Tory austerity and wages not keeping up with the rising cost of living.
“The Scottish Welfare Fund provides much needed help to many people across the country, but the SNP government should be doing a lot more.
“That is why Scottish Labour is calling on the government to use the powers of the Scottish Parliament in its forthcoming budget to end the two-child cap and to top-up Child Benefit by £5 per week.
“Only Labour is committed to using Scotland’s powers to tackle poverty and rebalance our economy in the interests of the many, not the few.”