Labour calls for action on crisis grants ‘postcode lottery’

Pam Duncan-Glancy said 'families struggling the most need money in their pockets now'.

Labour calls for action on crisis grants ‘postcode lottery’

A Labour MSP has claimed Scots face a “postcode lottery” when applying for crisis grants.

The grants are part of the Scottish Welfare Fund and are provided to people on low incomes to cover the costs of an emergency.

Labour’s analysis of the payments across Scotland in 2020/21 show wide variations in the rejection rate and average amount paid in different local authority areas.

But the Scottish Government said the party has a “misunderstanding” of how the fund works.

The proportion of rejected applications varied from 16% in Inverclyde to 55% in Shetland.

The average amount awarded ranged from £69 in the Borders to £260 in Orkney, a difference of £191.

Across Scotland, the rejection rate was 31% and the average award was £106.

Scottish Labour’s social security and social justice spokeswoman Pam Duncan-Glancy said: “It’s unacceptable that whether you get access to essential lifeline support or not ends up coming down to a postcode lottery.

“Families struggling the most need money in their pockets now, as furlough comes to an end, and as the UK Government charge ahead with their plan to scrap the Universal Credit uplift that so many rely on.

“The Scottish Welfare Fund is a key way that the Scottish Government can do that, it is key action they can take to help prevent poverty.

“There can be no room for variation in how it gets this money out to the people who need it the most.

“It is their responsibility to make sure councils have the funding and the guidance they need to get this money in the pockets of those who need it, and they must do that, fast.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “This is inaccurate and shows a misunderstanding of how the Scottish Welfare Fund is delivered and how it provides a lifeline to those in need.

“Councils follow legislation and detailed statutory guidance when making decisions on whether crisis grants are awarded, considering the particular needs of each applicant and any additional circumstances that need to be taken into account – and, of course, eligibility.

“This flexibility is a key strength of the Scottish Welfare Fund, but can lead to different expenditure levels in different local authority areas and different rates of acceptance.

“We are committed to carrying out a review of the purpose and operation of the Scottish Welfare Fund to make sure it works as well as possible in all parts of the country.”

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