Crisis grant pleas more than double in Edinburgh

Hard-up Scots received a record high of more than £2.5 million in emergency grants in the first full month of lockdown, new figures have shown.

By Katrine Bussey
Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 4:45 pm
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People.
Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People.

Spending on crisis grants for the month of April was 158 per cent higher than the same period in 2019, a Scottish Government report showed.

In the Edinburgh City Council area alone the number of crisis grants - which help families with the essential costs such as heating and eating - that were handed out in April to June more than doubled on the same period in 2019, with 5,735 grants award this year compared to 2,280 12 months ago.

Spending on crisis grants across Scotland amounted to £5.2 million for the three months.

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In April alone a record £2.53 million was allocated - the largest amount paid out in crisis grants in one month since the system was set up in April 2013.

Spending on the grants then fell to £1.42 million in May and £1.26 million in June - with the amounts spent in both these months higher than it had been the previous year.

The payments were made from the Scottish Welfare Fund, which has provided help worth more than £246.4 million to 393,350 households since it was set up in 2013

Over that period, a third of households that received assistance were families with children while just over half of all grants went to single people living alone.

The latest Scottish Government statistics showed spending on crisis grants increased in 30 of the country's 32 local authority areas over the period April to June - with only North Lanarkshire and Shetland seeing a fall.

Spending more than doubled in nine local authority areas, with Orkney seeing a 606 per cent increase compared to April to June 2019.

The grants were established to help low-income families who are in crisis because of a disaster or emergency, and over the period April to June 2020, councils received 74,495 applications for help - 46 per cent more than the previous year.

In April alone - the first month that Scotland was in lockdown after coronavirus hit - there were 31,815 applications, an 81 per cent increase compared to the same month in 2019.

"Increased crisis grant expenditure was driven largely by more applications and awards being made as a result of Covid-19," a Scottish Government report noted.

The Scottish government increased the amount of cash available for the Scottish Welfare Fund in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "These latest figures demonstrate that we were right to ensure our Scottish Welfare Fund was increased - just one of many actions taken to ensure there is additional financial support to people coping with the economic impacts of coronavirus (Covid-19).

"The leading reason people apply for emergency help is that their benefits or other income has been spent.

"While the Scottish government works to improve provision for children and families facing poverty, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from UK benefit cuts."

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