The number of people in Scotland reaching cash crisis point and applying for emergency money has soared by 16 per cent in a year, anti-poverty campaigners have revealed.
And that has triggered calls for immediate action from the Scottish Government to step in to help thousands who are forced to go without food.
The Scottish Welfare Fund, designed to be a safety net for people on low incomes who find themselves in additional financial difficulty, is distributed through councils – but its funding has been frozen by Holyrood since 2013, amounting to a real-terms cut.
It’s the only scheme of its kind in the UK, but campaigners A Menu for Change found that many local authorities avoid advertising it – because they worry demand will totally outstrip supply.
The fund received 51,715 applications in the last quarter, while polls show that only a third of people in Scotland say they would know where to go for help if they were left without money for food. As many as 600,000 emergency food parcels were given out in the past year and a half.
Alexander Glasgow, from Caithness, said a crisis grant proved to be a “lifeline” for him when he was left without any other income.