The drastic increase in the number of applications for crisis grants in Dumfries and Galloway is deeply concerning, according to South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth.

New figures released yesterday (January 28) by the Scottish Government show the number of applications for crisis grants was 1,620 between July and September 2019, an increase of 330 (26 per cent) compared to the same period in 2018.

Across Scotland, the figures show that from July to September 2019, local authorities received 51,715 applications for crisis grants: a 16 per cent increase on the previous year. A total of £3.2 million in crisis grants was paid across the whole country during this period, 34 per cent more than the previous year.

However, Dumfries and Galloway was one of the councils which saw the biggest increase in applications.

South of Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth said: “These figures are deeply concerning and highlight just how much pressure people are under in this time of austerity.

“It shows how important it is for the Scottish Government to listen to councils at this year’s budget and deliver the resources our hard-pressed local authorities need.

“It’s also clear that more also needs to be done by the UK Government to tackle the reasons why so many people have to turn to crisis grants, particularly ending Universal Credit”

“There are clearly very serious social problems driving people in Dumfries and Galloway towards crisis grants and the combination of the SNP’s council budget cuts and the UK Government’s appalling benefit changes have left people seriously struggling.”

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