Council Executive voted to allocate the one-off extra funding to cover the cost of additional applications to the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF), mainly due to the impact of welfare reform changes such as the introduction of Universal Credit. The council receives over £1million each year from the Scottish Government for SWF payments. This budget has only increased by £1,084 since 2013/14, despite an 85% increase in applications between 2013/14 and 2019/20.
There are two types of grants available from the SWF: Crisis Grants, where an individual is in a financial emergency and their health and safety is at risk; and Community Care Grants, to help qualifying individuals establish or maintain a settled home.
Leader of West Lothian Council Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: "We are committed to making every effort to tackle poverty among West Lothian's most vulnerable residents.
"The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital source of help for those who need it, as we aim to mitigate the impact of welfare reform changes such as Universal Credit.
"Despite the pressure on council budgets, it's vital we ensure the fund has enough resources to provide assistance to those who need it by allocating extra to cover the expected overspend."