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.
The additional support is being provided in response to the pressures that so many more people are dealing with because of the Covid-19 crisis.
Of the £30 million being pledged, £10 million has been earmarked to cover the costs of providing school children with free meals throughout their half term and winter holidays.
Further support is also set to be provided to pay for free meals for school children through to the Easter break in the first half of next year.
“We know a healthy meal during the school day helps children to learn – but right now it’s an essential to support families at such a difficult time,” said Shirley-Anne Sommerville, cabinet secretary for social security and older people.
“This money will offer nutritious free meals for children or allow families to get food they desperately need,” she said.
Ms Sommerville went on to explain that most of the extra money being provided to local authorities is designed to give them a greater capacity to address the needs of people dealing with financial hardship in their areas.
A rise in joblessness is anticipated this winter as the UK government’s job support scheme ends and while widespread restrictions remain in place to stop the spread of coronavirus.
With those issues in mind, local budgets are being bolstered so that local authorities are better able to help people who find themselves struggling to pay for food, cover their fuel costs or keep a roof over their heads.
“The funding for Free School Meals during the Christmas, February and Easter breaks will come as a great relief for many hard-pressed parents,” said Bill Scott, chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission.
“We would urge local authorities to use the flexibility given to them by Scottish government to ensure that every penny of extra help available gets to those who need it most,” he added.
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The number of Scots who have missed energy bill payments because they couldn’t afford to make them has increased sharply since 2020, according to a new set of figures.
Millions of low-income households across the UK are being dragged down by debts they accumulated during the pandemic.
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