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Tens of thousands of Scots needed emergency support to avoid going hungry.
Campaigners are calling for an increase to the Scottish Welfare Fund budget after new statistics released this week show a rising numbers of people are accessing emergency cash to help pay for food.
A total of 50,980 applications for Scottish Welfare Fund Crisis Grants were made between April and June 2019, representing a 12 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year.
Most of the Crisis Grant expenditure related to applicants needing to buy food – 60% of all payments – which is a 29% increase from the same quarter last year.
There were 32,995 crisis grants awarded, an 11% increase on last year.
Half of the reasons for applications in the last quarter were because of benefit or income emergencies.
Despite increasing numbers of Crisis Grants being awarded, the budget to administer the Scottish Welfare Fund has been the same since it was first introduced in 2013, representing a real-terms cut.
A Menu for Change – a partnership between Oxfam, the Poverty Alliance, the Child Poverty Action Group and Nourish – says that the Scottish Welfare Fund budget must be increased to ensure that people at crisis point are able to get the emergency help they need.
However, it says the key drivers of food insecurity – inadequate and insecure wages and social security – need resolved to prevent people being forced to turn to the Scottish Welfare Fund for emergency cash.
Without secure and reliable incomes, the Scottish Welfare Fund is a final lifeline for people who do not have enough money to buy food.
A recent report from A Menu for Change based on interviews with Scots experiencing food insecurity found that while half of those interviewed over time had accessed a Crisis Grant Fund, many had not heard of it.
Margaret MacLachlan, A Menu for Change project manager, said: “It is unacceptable in modern day Scotland that increasing numbers of people are being forced to rely on emergency cash to put food on the table because wages and social security are inadequate.