Growing number of Scots repeatedly ask for crisis loans, warns Labor

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A growing number of Scots live in permanent financial distress due to the pandemic and cuts in universal credit, the Labor Party has warned.

Three of the Scottish Welfare Fund’s four crisis grants in April and June went to people who applied in the past, a historic record.

Repeaters made up 63% of the total awarded in the same period last year and only 17% in 2013.

The most recent figures show that a third of applications for the fund were rejected, with applicants facing a postal code lottery due to a huge variation in approval rates between local authorities.

Labor said the figures underscored the need for SNP ministers to offer a genuine minimum income guarantee instead of a ‘plaster’ approach to tackling poverty.

Pam Duncan-Glancy, the party’s social security spokesperson, said: “More and more people are living in a state of constant crisis, relying on piecemeal subsidies to make ends meet.

“Crisis grants are an important lifeline, but they are not a substitute for a real safety net. Things only get worse as bills soar and the Conservatives’ shameful cut to universal credit hits.

“We need more than band-aid to fight poverty in Scotland. “

A Scottish government spokesperson said: ‘We have taken unprecedented action to support people during the pandemic.

“The Scottish Welfare Fund provides a vital safety net for households facing an unexpected financial crisis.

“This is why we are committed to keeping the fund’s budget at £ 41million and undertaking a full independent review to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible across the country.

“Low-income people, children and those at risk of homelessness will need more support this winter amid rising costs of living and fuel.

‘This is why we announced today a new Winter Support Fund which includes £ 10million to help people struggling to pay their fuel bills, £ 25million of flexible funding to help local authorities to support well-being and respond to financial insecurity according to local needs, and £ 6million for third sector partners to support low-income families.

“Everyone in Scotland deserves to live a healthy, financially secure and fulfilling life and a guaranteed minimum income will be an important step in achieving this. “

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