The increasing number of families needing crisis grants shows the need for fundamental change to tackle Scotland’s housing emergency, a leading charity has warned.
Statistics published by the Scottish Government this week show a marked rise in the number of applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund.
The fund, set up in 2013, provides funding for families on low incomes - including crisis and community care grants - which are distributed by local authorities.
Data to the end of November 2021 shows the number of families applying for crisis grants and the cost of these both increased compared to the previous month.
Local authorities received a total of 25,587 crisis grant applications, up 26% on October, with the fund spending £1.8 million as a result - a fifth more than the previous month.
A further 8,237 community care grant applications were received, also up on the previous month, with the government acknowledging in the report that the impacts of Covid-19 have affected the numbers of applications.
Shelter Scotland has warned that the effects of the ongoing coronavirus crisis can be seen in the increasing number of people accessing the fund.
The charity said the underlying issues which push people into poverty and housing insecurity need to be addressed by more than just this “safety net”.
Director of Shelter Scotland, Alison Watson, said: “These figures show a significant spike in applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund and remind us that tens of thousands of households are still struggling financially in the wake of the pandemic.
“Crisis grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund provide an important safety net for many, offering help with urgent living costs such as heating or food. However, they can’t address the systemic issues which force people into desperate situations in the first place.
“Every day Shelter Scotland hears from people struggling with the cost of insecure or unaffordable housing.
“It’s an exhausting, damaging, way to live and it has to stop.
“Building more quality social housing goes beyond the numbers of homes, it’s about social justice and is vital in tackling the root causes of poverty, reducing inequality and lifting a huge weight from the thousands of people living at the sharp end of the housing emergency.”