Sandra White MSP for Glasgow Kelvin and the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Convener has welcomed Scottish Welfare Fund statistics released by the Scottish Government, and has warned of increasing poverty under callous Tory policies such as the Rape Clause.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national grant scheme run by Local Authorities, based on guidance from Scottish Ministers to provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency, when there is an immediate threat to health or safety, and to enable people to live independently or continue to live independently, preventing the need for institutional care.

Latest figures from October to December 2016 released today show over 51,000 applications were lodged, with more than 60% of successful applications resulting in a total of £8m awarded. Over half of all awards issued were to applications living in the 20% most deprived areas in Scotland.

Commenting, the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Convener and MSP for Glasgow Kelvin Sandra White said:

“I have been pleased to see the Scottish Welfare Fund has been able to help a great deal of people who have fallen on unfortunate circumstances due to no fault of their own. As a local MSP I have seen this work first hand having referred many constituents facing testings times and whom have received vital support as a result.

“However, it is it is unfortunate that increasingly the Fund is having to create extensions to defend against the worst of cruel Tory policies such as the interim expansion by the Scottish Government to provide support for the 18-21 year olds whose housing benefits have been scraped by the British Government.

“Once again, today in the Scottish Parliament we are discussing the impact on Scotland of another cruel poverty policy from the Tories, where we will consider the morally repugnant Rape Clause under Tory Tax Credit Removal plans which anti-poverty charities say will increase child poverty by 10%.

“We continue to do what we can to fight poverty and Tory austerity, and indeed the Scottish Government spends significant resources attempting to mitigate Tory austerity and poverty policies in our public services, and in fighting terrible policies such as the Bedroom Tax and the removal of housing support for young people. This is money that should be taking the fight against poverty forward rather than covering Tory attacks on the worst off in society.”

Commenting on the latest statistics on the Scottish Welfare Fund, Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said:

“Nobody chooses to rely on grants but at times of crisis it’s essential the right support is there to help those who need it most and that’s what the Scottish Welfare Fund does – it provides support for those who desperately need it.

“It is a vital lifeline for people in times of need and helps with everyday necessities, such as food, nappies or heating, that many of us take for granted. Since April 2013, £124 million has been spent helping more than 241,000 households across the country. We have recently had to extend the fund on an interim basis to ensure housing support is provided to 18 to 21 year-olds who will no longer receive financial assistance with housing costs under Universal Credit.

“It is completely unacceptable that people find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own and we will continue to do all we can to support hard pressed families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.”

The statistical release is available here: https://news.gov.scot/news/scottish-welfare-fund-1

More information on the housing support for 18 to 21 year-olds: https://news.gov.scot/news/uk-housing-benefit-changes-shameful

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