Minister Shirley Anne-Sommerville and Jackie Baillie MSP.

By Democrat reporter

Yesterday in the Scottish Parliament, Jackie Baillie MSP questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Sommerville, on what the Scottish Government was doing to protect individuals in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond, who will experience hardship in the days and weeks ahead.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a national scheme provided under The Welfare Funds (Scotland) Act 2015 and delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government by all 32 local authorities.  Councils have extensive discretion over how the scheme is provided in their local area.

The fund helps families and people in Scotland who are on low incomes through Crisis Grants and Community Care Grants. The crisis grants are for when an individual or family are in crisis because of a disaster (like a fire or flood), or an emergency (like losing your money or an unexpected expense). The Community Care Grant helps you or someone you care for to start to live, or to carry on living, a settled life in the community.

Normally, claimants are not eligible to make more than three claims for a crisis grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund in any given year. Jackie Baillie raised the point that, given the unprecedented circumstances the public are finding themselves in, this criteria should be waived.

The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that this would be the case. She informed the chamber that local authorities will soon receive updated guidance on matters such as Scottish Welfare Fund claims.

Jackie Baillie MSP said:  “I wholeheartedly welcome the confirmation from the Scottish Government that the ‘three claim rule’ for the Scottish Welfare Fund will be waived in order to ensure that individuals in my constituency and across Scotland are properly supported and protected during these uncertain times.

“The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital part of Scotland’s social security system and thousands of families on low incomes rely on it to survive. It is important to remind the public that receiving social security payments is not a criteria for being eligible to claim from the Scottish Welfare Fund. These are extraordinary times and families who usually manage to make ends meet will find themselves struggling in a way that they haven’t done before.

“I urge anyone who might be in this position in my constituency to contact our local Council so that they can be given the help and advice needed in order to make a claim.”

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