Raft of financial measures put in place as part of £350m emergency package
Scotland’s front line charities have praised a vital £350m emergency cash lifeline thrown to the country’s struggling families, its lowest paid workers and the organisations supporting them.
Third sector groups have applauded the emergency move with the Scottish Government saying the cash will be made available to charities, community groups as well as councils and businesses to support those affected most by the coronavirus crisis.
The funding package will be allocated to existing funding streams through several new funds, with £45 million added to the existing Scottish Welfare Fund which makes Community Grants and Crisis Grants available to those in immediate need.
This more than doubles the current £35.5 million fund, which is administered by local authorities.
They will be given more flexibility in how it is used to ensure they can fully support people in financial crisis, including workers in the gig economy.
Eileen Campbell, communities secretary, said the funding is designed to be flexible, cutting red tape and getting rapidly to those impacted economically.
“Our funding package will be focused on delivery, not bureaucracy or red tape,” she said. “Local authorities, local businesses, community groups and the third sector know and understand the support needs of their communities the best. Where people and organisations have solutions or ideas, I want to hear them.”
She added: “Unless we work with local partners the impact of our investment will not be felt by those that need it most. So my message today is – if we can help you to help the people of Scotland then we will.”
In addition a £70 million Food Fund will help organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors address issues of food insecurity; a £50 million Wellbeing Fund will help charities and others who require additional capacity to work with at-risk people who may be worst affected by the crisis; a £40 million Supporting Communities Fund will be used to support community efforts at a local level; and £20 million will be allocated to a Third Sector Resilience Fund.
Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “CAS joined with a number of other anti-poverty organisations to call for a significant increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund and our CABs will continue to ensure people are sign posted towards the scheme.
“A third of people say they would struggle with an unexpected £500 expense so we believe there will be a large demand on this fund so it was vital it is properly resourced.”
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said the fund provided a lifeline to struggling families.
“The investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund will provide a lifeline for families struggling to stay afloat in the difficult times ahead. With so many unknowns about what is to come, we need keep close watch on the impact of these measures and what more can be done to support people and communities through this period.”
And Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the cash would elp ease the burden on organisations supporting those most in need.
She said: “The Scottish Government has listened to the voices from the voluntary sector looking for urgent support at this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
“The measures announced today will go a long way to helping voluntary organisations through the immediate pressures, which of course means that they can continue to rise to the challenge of supporting people and communities across the country.”