New figures released by the Scottish government today show a growing number of people are turning to the Scottish Welfare Fund for support to cover essential living costs such as heating and eating.
The Scottish Welfare Fund comprises of Community Care Grants – which help people to live independently – and Crisis Grants, which provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency.
The statistics show that from July to September 2018, Local Authorities received 44,530 applications for Crisis Grants – up 4% from the previous year. Yet the total number of awards made actually decreased by 1% to 28,950.
Clackmannanshire and Angus saw significant spikes in the number of crisis grant awards; up 84% and 71% respectively.
However, A Menu for Change is concerned that the Scottish Welfare Fund’s budget has not been increased since its launch, despite rising inflation.
Responding to the figures, Dr. Mary Anne MacLeod, Research and Policy Officer at A Menu for Change said: “These statistics are extremely concerning. It’s absolutely unacceptable that in a wealthy country like Scotland such large number of people simply don’t have enough money to heat their homes or put food on the table.
“What’s worrying is that the safety net which is supposed to catch people – the Scottish Welfare Fund – has had its budget cut in real terms year on year. The Scottish government must urgently address this shortfall and make sure the Scottish Welfare Fund has the support and resources it needs to help prevent more people from being pushed further into poverty.”
A Menu for Change is keen to work with local authorities and the Scottish government to ensure the Scottish Welfare Fund is able to help everyone unable to afford food.
A total of 316,095 low income households have accessed emergency funding to help with the costs of essentials such as food and heating since 2013.