The amounts of money being paid out as crisis grant payments across Scotland doubled between April and May of last year and the same two months of 2020.
Close to £4 million was distributed via the Scottish Welfare Fund in April and May this year, which represents a very sharp increase as compared to the £2 million handed out via the same processes a year earlier.
Much of the increased demand for crisis grants is being attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown it precipitated, which prompted a sharp economic downturn and loss of incomes for many thousands of people and households across the country.
The total number of crisis grants approved in April and May was almost 58,000, which is an increase of 62 per cent compared with the same period in 2019.
Additional funding was allocated to the Scottish Welfare Fund in March on the understanding that demand would be likely to rise significantly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Citizens Advice Scotland welcomed the extra cash being given to the welfare fund but said there also needs to be more work done to directly support people who find themselves facing serious financial hardship this year.
“As news of increased redundancies spreads, local authorities, the Scottish government and the UK government can further support those facing hardship by strengthening all parts of the social security safety net,” said the charity’s social justice spokesperson Nina Ballantyne.
Ms Ballantyne has also said that crisis grant applications should be easier to make and that associated payments should be sent to approved recipients more quickly.
Meanwhile, Shelter Scotland, the homelessness charity, has suggested that the steep rise in crisis grant applications represents a warning sign that large numbers of Scots will soon be struggling to pay their rent, if they aren’t already.
Shelter has said that steps should be taken to legally protect from eviction people who have become unable to pay their rent because of the Covid-19 situation.
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The Scottish government has said it will be providing local authorities across the country with an extra £30 million to help them tackle financial insecurity in their areas.
MPs at Westminster have argued that people applying for Universal Credit (UC) should not be forced to wait five weeks before receiving their first payments.
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