Rise in demand for emergency grants in Fife

The average payments given out by Fife Council have risen from �84.69 to �107.49.
The average payments given out by Fife Council have risen from �84.69 to �107.49.

Fife Council’s approval rate for emergency grant payments to Fifers in need has dropped 12 per cent in the last two years, as demand continues to rise.

The approval rate for Crisis Grants, given to people in a one-off emergency situation, such as running out of food due to a sudden loss of income, dropped from 83 per cent in 2017/18 to 71 per cent in 2019/20 so far. However, average payments have risen from £84.69 to £107.49.

There has also been a decline in the percentage of applications for Community Care Grants which are successful. These grants, given to people to set up a home or to continue to live independently, dropped from 60 per cent in 2017/18 to 56 per cent in 2019/20.

Fife’s Welfare Fund expenditure, which includes both grants, has gone from £2.5 million in 2015/16 to £3.39m in 2018/19.

MSP Willie Rennie sad he was “deeply concerned” about the rise in demand for the grants, adding: “It is a great service provided by Fife Council with a very rapid response to request for assistance.

“The fact that so many households in Fife rely on emergency financial help is appalling, and a worrying insight into the dire situation. There is a desperate need for a concerted approach to welfare between the UK and Scottish governments.”

Councillor Tim Brett added: “I was shocked to see these figures because of the increasing spending linked largely to continuing pressure on family budgets and difficulties with universal credit. I know that many Council services do their best to provide support for families and individuals who are in need, but we should not forget the pressures that many people are living under.”

Barbara Francis, customer service team leader at Fife Council, said: “As application numbers received has increased significantly the likely cause for the approval rate dropping is that applicants are not meeting the qualifying criteria as they are applying more than three times within a 12 month period and they do not meet the criteria of exceptional circumstances.”