Reported by The Courier – the news we share raises awareness of equality issues being reported in the media.
Fife has seen a huge hike in the number of people seeking emergency handouts in the last seven years and hit its highest level ever in the autumn, according to new figures.
Applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) from hard-pressed families in the region rose to a staggering 7,580 in July to September last year – representing more than a five-fold increase on the 1,565 received in the same period in 2013.
The same pattern has emerged in relation to crisis grants, often seen as a last resort in times of hardship or emergency, with the 6,240 applications received in the July to September 2019 quarter dwarfing the 1,135 lodged seven years ago.
More than three times as many people also asked for community care grants in the same period, up from 435 to 1,335.
The rise in Fife has sparked concern about the ability of low income families to cope with welfare reform, as the region posted the highest annual rise in SWF applications of all 32 Scottish local authorities – a 42% increase in the past year alone.
The most common reason families said they applied for emergency funding was because their benefits or other income had been spent.
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, who is also SNP MSP for Dunfermline, revealed how £3.2 million worth of crisis grants were dished out between July and September 2019, 34% more than the same period the previous year.
Fife’s figure of £521,281 over that period was the second-highest in Scotland, behind only Glasgow City Council which spent £769,153.