MSP demands urgent welfare ‘safety net’

Neil Bibby MSP
Neil Bibby MSP

Crisis grants allocated to people suffering financial hardship have more than doubled in East Renfrewshire over a single year.

Recent Scottish Welfare Fund figures show that, from July to September, 2015, £4,675 was given to people who, due to an unexpected expense such as a flood or a boiler breaking down, were forced to rely on a crisis grant.

For the same period in 2016, the figure was £7,518 - an increase of 96 per cent.

West of Scotland MSP Neil Bibby said the figures showed there was a need for social security reform to provide a “stronger safety net” and to ensure people get everything they are entitled to.

He wants to see a legal duty on the new Scottish Social Security Agency to maximise uptake of social security payments.

In the last year alone, more than 100,000 Scots did not claim the tax credits they were entitled to, missing out on a total of £428 million.

In total, Scots are missing out on over £2 billion of social security payments, including tax and pensions credits, housing benefit, carers allowance and council tax reduction.

Mr Bibby said: “Hundreds of thousands of Scots are one unexpected bill from being in real trouble.

“In East Renfrewshire area we are seeing a 61 per cent increase rise in crisis grants.

“We need to ensure our system supports people properly in the first place so fewer have to turn to crisis grants. We need a stronger safety net.

“Scots are missing out on £2billion worth of social security payments like working tax credit and child tax credit that they are entitled to.

“Making sure, in law that cash goes to the people who are entitled to it could make a huge difference to East Renfrewshire.”