THE Scottish Welfare Fund made 7,580 payments to people in the Fife Council area in the last financial quarter – to help pay for essentials such as food, heating costs, and household necessities with a significant number from the Cowdenbeath-Lochgelly area.

That payment of Community Care Grants and Crisis Grants awarded in between July and September 2019 represents an increase of 42% compared to the same period last year.

Cowdenbeath MSP Annabelle Ewing claimed this week that these figures came out just days after a new report revealed that the most vulnerable will be hit hardest by the UK decision to leave the EU, and Brexit will lead to increased job losses, the cost of living and food prices pushed up, and reductions in public spending.

Since its launch in April 2013, the Scottish Welfare Fund has paid out almost £220 million to over 357,000 households across the country – nearly one and a half million people - – with 104,485 people in Fife receiving help from the Scottish Government fund.

In total a third of households receiving awards were families with children.

Annabelle Ewing said: “The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or crisis – over 100,000 Fifers since the payments were introduced.

“But the fact that so many households here in Fife have been forced to turn to the fund for emergency financial help is extremely concerning. And the figures are rising – by a shocking 42% in the last quarter".

She added: “The Scottish Government spends millions every year shielding Scots from UK Government welfare cuts. That our devolved Government should have to protect its citizens from the cruelty of the UK state is unacceptable and unsustainable.

“And with the threat of Brexit still alive – the risk is real that tens of thousands more people could be pushed into poverty in Scotland and left at the mercy of this heartless Tory Government.

“Only with full powers over social security can we begin to make Scotland an equal country with a dignified and fair welfare system. Until then, the SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support low income families.”