Scottish Welfare Fund in Perth and Kinross
Perth & Kinross Council has seen an increase in applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund every year for the past five years, as well as an increase in the average amount awarded. Since 2016/17, we have spent more than the funding provided by the Scottish Government for this fund. In 2019/20, the Council itself funded a £140,000 shortfall in order to make sure vulnerable people in need were not left destitute. The Council also subsidises the administration costs of the Fund.
Our figures for February to May 2020 show a 60% increase in crisis grant applications and an 80% increase in awards compared to last year, more than doubling the total amount awarded over this period in 2019.
April and May 2020 together saw us give out 16% of the available Scottish Welfare Fund budget in grants, including the welcome increase in funding. Although figures for June are still being collated, it is likely that these will bring the total for that quarter to 25%.
Councillor Murray Lyle, Leader of the Council, said, "Nobody should have to go hungry or worry about losing a place to live, due to the impact of Coronavirus or any for other reason. Council staff have worked tirelessly to make the Scottish Welfare Fund as accessible as possible, whilst maintaining necessary restrictions during the pandemic. They have put in hundreds of extra hours publicising the Fund and processing applications, as well as offering wider support and advice which has helped thousands of people."
In Perth and Kinross, the Scottish Welfare Fund can be accessed online, via telephone and by post. While we had to limit face to face support due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we have increased our publicity for the fund, including information in several languages. We upskill all frontline agencies including foodbanks, health and social workers, housing and third sector, so that they have an in-depth knowledge of the fund and can make applications on behalf of their people in need. We also make seamless referrals to partner agencies to ensure that incomes are maximised and other support is provided to ensure the best possible outcomes for our residents.
Following Scottish Government guidance, we use our discretion appropriately according to the individual circumstances of each application and provide wide-ranging advice and support to people applying to the Fund, so that they can access all benefits they are entitled to and find longer-term, sustainable solutions to their needs.