‘Horrifying’ rise in Scots needing emergency cash to pay for basics

Crisis grants to help people pay for food in emergency situations rose by 41% between 2019 and 2022.

‘Horrifying’ rise in Scots needing emergency cash grants to pay for basics, Scottish Welfare Fund figures show iStock

Labour has condemned the “horrifying” rise in Scots who need emergency help to feed and clothe their families.

Scottish Welfare Fund figures showed a 41% rise in the number of crisis grants handed out to help people pay for food in emergency situations between 2019 and 2022.

Meanwhile over the same period, the number of Scots awarded the emergency grants to help pay for clothing and shoes increased by 79%.

The figures showed 118,800 crisis grants were awarded to households to enable them to buy food in 2019 – with this rising to 167,005 three years later.

Meanwhile the grants given out by councils to help households buy clothing and footwear went from 535 to 960.

The data also showed 97,650 people were given a crisis grant in 2022 to help with essential heating costs – up by 8% from the total of 90,435 in 2019.

Labour social security spokesperson Paul O’Kane said the figures showed that “more and more people are stuck in permanent crisis, relying on emergency funding to afford the basics”.

He added: “This is both a horrifying reflection of the scale of this cost of living crisis and a damning indictment of our two governments’ responses.”

He insisted: “People cannot just rely on sticking plaster solutions – both of our governments need to use the powers they have to tackle poverty at its root.”

Between April 2013, when the Scottish Welfare Fund was set up, and the end of December 2022, a total of 501,045 individual households have received grants via the scheme, with the help they have been given amounting to a total of some £381.6m.

As well as providing crisis grants to help households in financial hardship in emergency situations, the scheme provides community care grants, which help those who have been in care, people leaving prison and those who have been homeless.

Social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We have allocated almost £3bn to a range of measures to help mitigate the impacts of the cost of living crisis and our investment in the Scottish child payment, the most ambitious child poverty reduction measure in the UK, is estimated to lift 50,000 children out of relative poverty in 2023-24.

“In addition, the Scottish Welfare Fund is part of £120m a year spent on mitigating against UK Government policies.

“A decade of UK Government austerity and welfare cuts alongside a hard Brexit and mishandling of the economy has led to soaring inflation and increasing prices, and the current cost of living crisis.

“We have urged the UK Government to take action just as we are doing within our limited powers and fixed budget. It is clear, though, that it is only with the full economic and fiscal powers of an independent nation that Scottish ministers can use all levers other governments have to tackle poverty and inequalities.”

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