Extra £9 million to help protect Scotland’s poorest

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An extra 100,000 vulnerable Scots are expected to receive financial help after the Scottish Government stepped in to reverse some of the UK Government’s welfare cuts.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the creation of a Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) to administer Community Care Grants (CCGs) and Crisis Grants (CGs), and that an additional £9 million will be allocated to this next year.

This will reinstate funding cuts by Westminster in recent years as a result of changes to UK welfare rules.

Under the UK Government’s welfare reform measures – due to come into force in April 2013 – the Scottish Government will be given the power to administer these two initiatives, which provide crucial financial assistance to lone parents, the disabled, unemployed and the elderly.

This will be done through the new SWF, set up to replace the Social Fund currently operated by the UK Government.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“It is absolutely imperative that the most vulnerable members of society are protected and cared for during these tough economic times.

“Westminster has responded to this recession by imposing drastic welfare cuts which will affect some of our most vulnerable groups, including the elderly, the disabled and the unemployed.

“This government will not turn its back on vulnerable people.  The new Scottish Welfare Fund will ensure that these groups are provided with the necessary grants to assist them in times of need.

“Welfare is, unfortunately, a reserved matter, but with independence we would have the powers needed to ensure that our most vulnerable families and groups are protected.”

Responding to the news, Anne Houston Chief Executive of Children 1st said:

“Children 1st welcomes the new Scottish welfare fund, especially in light of stringent welfare reforms which are coming down the line from Westminster.

“We are pleased that the Scottish Government has increased the amount of money now going into the fund and that they are removing the loan element.

“It means that families are not forced into further poverty as they try to pay back crisis loans.

“In particular we can see how such a fund might benefit vulnerable families that Children 1st work with, including for example families fleeing violent homes at a moments notice and who need money to tide them over.”