Figures underline need for a ‘stronger safety net’ for NE

31 January 2017

New figures released from the Scottish Welfare Fund underlines the need for a ‘stronger safety net’ for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said today.

Figures released show that there was a 49% increase in spending on Crisis Grants in the Aberdeen City Council area between 2015 and 2016, and a 133% increase in Aberdeenshire.

A crisis grant aims to help people on a low income who fall into severe financial hardship because of an unexpected expense – such as a boiler breaking down, or a disaster like a flood or fire.

The significant increase over the last 12 months is an indication of the impact that the downturn in the oil and gas industry has had on ordinary working families, while many households in the region also faced added costs because of damage caused by severe storms last winter.

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

Lewis Macdonald MSP said :

“Hundreds of thousands of Scots are one unexpected bill from being in real trouble.

“In Aberdeen there has been a 49% increase in spending on Crisis Grants, because families have found themselves in financial difficulties, with the same figure increasing by 133% in Aberdeenshire.

“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 the North East, where many families are finding it tougher to make ends meet as a result of jobs losses and wage cuts.

“The Scottish Parliament has the powers to shape a fairer social security system, but it’s now time for the SNP government to move away from warm words to action that will make a real difference to the support hundreds of thousands of Scots receive.”

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