Applications to Scottish Welfare Fund rise by 69 percent

The fund, which is designed to help people at risk of rough sleeping or in serious need of assistance, has seen a huge spike in applications to more than 120,000 this year.

Since the Scottish Welfare Fund was first set up by ministers in 2013, more than £173 million has been handed out, but in recent years requests for assistance has skyrocketed.

In April to June 2018 alone, £8.2 million in grants were awarded – 2 percent more than in the same period in 2017.

In East Renfrewshire the number of applications were 52 percent higher this year, with five other authorities recording rises of 30 percent or more – Clackmannanshire (40 percent), Edinburgh (33 percent) the Western Isles (50 percent) Fife (44 percent) and South Ayrshire (30 percent).

Those in need received grants totalling almost £1.4 million to help with the cost of food in April to June 2018, 7 percent higher than was spent on this in the same period of 2017.

Meanwhile grants to help with the cost of heating rose by 12 percent to over £450,000 and awards for help with the cost of nappies, toiletries and other household products were up 27 percent, with these amounting to more than £37,000.

Scottish Labour's Housing spokesperson, Pauline McNeill, MSP said the figures were "deeply troubling", and should service as a wake-up call for the Scottish government.

“It is unacceptable to have anyone sleeping rough in 21st century Scotland, but it is now clear that Tory and SNP cuts are forcing more and more people into rough sleeping."

“With winter rapidly approaching, this is even more concerning. "

In a statement, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said she was “dismayed that so many people find themselves in the position of needing to access emergency help”, and blamed cuts from Westminster for the statistics.

“As the UK Government persists with the roll out Universal Credit, forcing more and more families into poverty, we are going to continue to see an increase in people needing such support. Scotland will have lost £3.7 billion in welfare benefits a year by the end of this decade."

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