The thousands of cash-strapped Falkirk area people helped by the Scottish Welfare Fund is a shocking indictment of how Tory government austerity has hit the most vulnerable.
That’s the view of Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson, who says the fund is a vital lifeline for people in times of need.
It has helped nearly 18,000 Falkirk area residents on low incomes, with £4.4million going to local families in its first five years.
A total of 17,520 local people received support in crisis grants or community care grants between April 2013, when the fund was created, and March this year.
The grants help struggling households to pay for essential living expenses, including food and heating, during times of crisis.
In 2017-18 alone, 2,695 crisis grants averaging £82 each and 910 community care grants worth an average of £709 were awarded in Falkirk district.
Across Scotland, nearly 300,000 households benefited over the last five years from combined payouts totalling £164.8million.
Michael Matheson said: “The SNP Government created the Scottish Welfare Fund to provide a vital lifeline for people in times of need, ensuring that they can afford to pay for everyday essentials.
“While it’s comforting to see the level of support that has been provided by the Scottish Government to households in Falkirk district, the large number of people who have had to rely on this safety net is a shocking reminder of how the UK Government’s welfare and austerity policies are failing the most vulnerable members of our community.
“The Scottish Welfare Fund is an important way in which the Scottish Government is helping to protect people in Falkirk district who have been abandoned by the Tory Government in Westminster.