“Staggering”: £100 million a year to plug welfare gap
More than £100 million is spent each year to help relieve the worst impact of UK Government welfare cuts and support those on low incomes, the Scottish Government has said. This includes mitigating the bedroom tax for over 70,000 people, saving them an average of £650 a year, and providing £33 million support through the Scottish Welfare Fund, which has helped over 265,000 households since 2013, providing goods such as nappies and food.
The majority of local authorities are continuing to deal with Scottish Welfare Fund requests between Christmas and New Year. Local authorities that are closed have put in place contingency arrangements, such as emergency contact numbers.
Communities Secretary Angela Constance said: “It is staggering that we have to spend more than £100 million every year to plug a gap created by the UK Government so that we can try to keep people from even further hardship. It is not acceptable in 2017 that people find themselves in these situations through no fault of their own.
“The Scottish Welfare Fund continues to provide a vital lifeline, supporting over a quarter of a million low-income households in the last four years. For many, it provides much needed help for basic, everyday items.
“During the festive period, I would urge anyone who is facing a crisis to contact their local authority to find out what help is available . I’d also like to express my thanks to all the staff who are working over the festive period – they provide an invaluable service to people who need it the most.”
Local authorities have services available between Christmas and New Year. Please contact your local authority directly to find out the exact opening times.
The Scottish Government will continue to tackle the effects of the UK Government’s austerity policies. This includes £50 million to fully mitigate the Spare Room Subsidy, otherwise known as the ‘bedroom tax’, through Discretionary Housing Payments, sustaining funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund and increasing funding for the Fair Food Fund to £1.5 million.
To support all households on low incomes, the Scottish Government has invested over £1 billion in the Council Tax Reduction Scheme since 2013-14, helping almost half-a-million households to pay their Council Tax.