THE Scottish Welfare Fund made 1,840 payments to people in Fife in the last financial year, new figures show, with many of the recipients coming from the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area.

A total of 1,840 Community Care Grants and 14,310 Crisis Grants were awarded in the Kingdom over the year and local MSPs Annabelle Ewing and Jenny Gilruth said that the support was a vital element in helping local families.

The money helped people with essentials such as food, heating costs and household items.

The Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Welfare Fund in 2013.

The Fund is part of a £125 million annual package introduced by the Holyrood Government in what they saw as a move 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.

Speaking this afternoon (Wednesday) Ms Annabelle Ewing MSP, Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Cowdenbeath constituency, said: “The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or personal crisis.

“The fact that so many households in 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.

“The SNP would prefer these resources were invested directly to tackle poverty rather than protecting people from Tory austerity".

Kinglassie MSP Jenny Gilruth commented: “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.

“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 Fife families into poverty.”