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Crisis grants rise on the back of Tory welfare cuts

This news post is about 6 years old

Councils are handing out more crisis grants than ever as families struggle to make ends meet

Savage UK government cuts have been blamed for an increase in applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Emergency grants totalling more than £2 million were handed out by local councils to cover basic living costs in the final three months of 2017, new figures show.

Crisis grants worth £2,235,562 to 23,150 households were awarded - 9% more than a year ago.

The grants are distributed to pay for essentials such as food and heating.

It comes in the same week the Trussell Trust revealed it handed out a record 170,625 emergency food parcels in Scotland in 2017-18.

Scotland’s social security minister Jeane Freeman blamed UK government cuts for the increased reliance on emergency handouts.

She said: “It is unacceptable that people find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own.

“Under UK government welfare cuts, money is being taken from the pockets of low income families, pushing them into crisis, debt and poverty."

Almost £156m has been given out to Scots since the fund was set up in April 2013 with 285,720 individual households benefiting.

A third of those who received help in the last three months of 2017 were families with children.

Alison Watson, deputy director of Shelter Scotland, said the figures depict the daily struggles of tens of thousands of households across Scotland battling to make ends meet.

“Harsh welfare reforms, the roll out of Universal Credit, zero-hours contracts, stagnant wages and the high cost of housing are behind these figures and cause ongoing misery and uncertainty and contribute to the growing levels of poverty in Scotland,” she said.

“While it is good news the fund exists and is a vital safety net for so many households – a third of them with children – much more needs to be done to resolve the underlying issues to create a fairer and more just society for everyone in Scotland.

“Halting the roll-out of the flawed Universal Credit system until it is fixed and a major increase in the supply of truly affordable housing in places where people want to live would be a good start.”