THE Scottish Welfare Fund made 16,150 payments to people in Fife in the last financial year, new figures show. A total of 1,840 Community Care Grants and 14,310 Crisis Grants were awarded.

The money helped people with essentials such as food, heating costs and household items. The SNP introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013, part of a £125 million annual package to mitigate the impact of UK Government austerity.

Since its launch in April 2013, the Fund has paid out more than £200 million to support over 336,000 households across Scotland, with a third of recipients being families with children.

Cardenden and Kinglassie MP, Peter Grant said: “The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or personal crisis.

“The fact that so many households across Fife are in need of emergency financial help is appalling, and a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.”

North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins said: “The SNP would prefer these resources were invested directly to tackle poverty rather than protecting people from Tory austerity.

“Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty described it as outrageous that the Scottish Government had to divert funds to protect people from Westminster’s mess.

Their views were shared by Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman, who added: “The SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support low income families. It’s time for the Tories to end their austerity agenda and stop forcing families across Fife into poverty.”