The Scottish Government is to provide £104 million in welfare support to help vulnerable families after the recent UK government welfare changes.
£8 million will go to funding advice services to support those affected by and towards the delivery of the Emergency Food Aid Action Plan which helps organisations combat food poverty in Scotland.
Around £35 million will be divided between local authorities to support people affected by the bedroom tax.
£38 million will be allocated to the Scottish Welfare Fund and its delivery. The Scottish Welfare Fund provides a safety net to people in an emergency or a disaster and helps people on low incomes access household goods.
In addition, the Scottish Government is committing a further £23 million funding for the Council Tax Reduction scheme which supports vulnerable people in meeting their Council Tax liabilities.
The £104 million forms part of the Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2015-16.
So far the Scottish Government’s welfare support has:
* Helped over 100,000 households, including 32,000 families through the Scottish Welfare Fund, between April 2013 and June 2014.
* Protected over 537,000 vulnerable people from increased Council Tax liabilities, following the UK Government’s abolition of Council Tax Benefit.
* Helped 71,000 households affected by the bedroom tax, at an average cost of £50 a month.
* Helped to deliver 72 projects which are supporting 20,000 people through the Making Advice Work programme funded by both Scottish Government and the Money Advice Service.
After the announcement of the new budget the Housing and Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said:
“It is unacceptable that anyone should be living in poverty in a country as wealthy as Scotland.
“We recognise there is still a problem which is why we are taking action and setting aside £104 million in next year’s budget to tackle poverty and inequalities and to help those affected by welfare changes.
“By allocating £38 million to the Scottish Welfare Fund and its delivery, we are making sure that we continue to reach out to those in the most deprived areas of Scotland. This Fund will help families access support and help to buy everyday items that many of us take for granted.
“We are still paying a heavy price for Westminster’s welfare reforms, this investment will help to mitigate the effects of these cuts on some of our most vulnerable households.
“As we have already set out in our submission to the Smith Commission, full responsibility over welfare and social policy is the only way for us to tackle poverty and to create a more prosperous and fairer society.”