The number of people across Scotland applying for emergency crisis grants has risen sharply in recent months and concerns are being raised about how many Scots are being pushed into serious financial hardship by the coronavirus situation.
During April there was around £2.4 million distributed to people in crisis via the Scottish Welfare Fund, which represents a 154 per cent increase on the figure for the same month of last year.
More than 33,000 people applied for crisis funding during April, which is an 88 per cent jump compared to April 2019 and the highest figure on record for a single month.
Charities focussed on poverty issues are worried that significant numbers of Scottish families and households are being pushed into damaging financial difficulty and not necessarily accessing the support they need.
The food insecurity charity A Menu for Change is urging the Scottish government to take steps to provide financial support to all those who need it urgently through existing mechanisms, such as Universal Credit.
Specifically, the charity hopes to see child benefit levels increased, two-child limits on certain benefits lifted and the five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments scrapped entirely.
Peter Kelly from A Menu for Change said in a statement: “While the Scottish Welfare Fund throws a vital financial lifeline to those reaching crisis point, this rapid and significant increase in crisis grants exposes the gaps in the social safety net and inadequate incomes from paid employment – and we know that food bank use is on the rise, too.
“Since March we have seen just how compassionate our society can be with thousands of people volunteering, donating and working to ensure that everyone has enough food.
“As we begin to move into a new phase of the response to Covid-19 we must do more to prevent people from reaching crisis by putting more money into their pockets.”
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More than a third of workers in Scotland are fearful that they might lose their jobs at some point over the next 12 months.
Large numbers of households across Scotland could be facing serious financial problems once the option to defer their bills or their debt repayments ceases to be available.
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