24,000 Scottish families ‘living in severe hardship’

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Around 24,000 Scottish families are living in severe hardship, according to new research.

A report by the think tank Demos said that four per cent of Scotland’s 600,000 families with children faced severe disadvantage, struggling with problems such as low incomes, overcrowding, ill health, unemployment and lack of educational qualifications.

The report came as Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced extra cash for housing and money to help thousands of vulnerable people.

She told the closing session of the SNP conference in Perth that £45 million would be spent building 1200 new homes across Scotland and the Scottish Government would commit £9m to provide essential crisis support for 100,000 vulnerable people.

The £9m will go towards the creation of a new Scottish Welfare Fund, which will come into force after April, when responsibility for the existing Social Fund transfers from Westminster to Holyrood.

The current fund of £24m provides community care grants, used to help people live independently, as well as crisis grants which Ms Sturgeon said helped those who had “nowhere else to turn”.

The SNP deputy leader said: “Our Scottish Government will not desert any of Scotland’s people in times of need.”

The Demos report, entitled A Wider Lens, analysed 28,000 households across seven areas: low income, overcrowding, worklessness, ill health, no educational qualifications, mental health problems and poor neighbourhoods. Families facing four or more are considered “severely disadvantaged”, according to the report.

The study was commissioned by Quarriers, which supports disabled and disadvantaged children and families. Paul Moore, chief executive of the charity, said: “This research paints a truly bleak picture of what life is like for thousands of families across Scotland who experience multiple disadvantage every day.

“Multiple disadvantage has a compounding effect, creating a perfect storm of complex, interrelated hardships that feed off each other and are incredibly difficult to overcome.”

Louise Bazalgette, author of A Wider Lens, said: “This report goes beyond a simplistic understanding of disadvantage.

“It provides insight into the struggle thousands of families across Scotland go through on a daily basis.”