£100 million package will help communities at risk.
Funding to help people pay for food, heating, warm clothing and shelter during the winter is part of a new £100m support package.
The fund will help those on low incomes, children and people at risk of homelessness or social isolation cope with winter weather and the economic impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and Brexit.
The Winter Plan for Social Protection, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will also address domestic abuse and digital exclusion.
COVID-19 has had a significant negative effect on Scotland’s economy hitting jobs and living standards hard – and Brexit will exacerbate the situation.
With winter approaching, some of Scotland’s most at-risk communities are facing rising costs for food, fuel and other essentials.
Key elements of the plan include:
- £22m for low income families including £16m to give the low income families of an estimated 156,000 children in receipt of free school meals a one-off £100 payment by Christmas
- £23.5m to help vulnerable children through additional support for residential and care homes, social work, and the Children’s Hearing system
- £15m for the Communities and Third Sector Recovery Programme to support the work of local organisations
- £5.9m to promote digital inclusion for older people, support social isolation and loneliness and to promote equality
- £7m to help people who are struggling to pay fuel bills
- £5m to help those at risk of homelessness find a settled home
The Winter Plan for Social Protection also includes £15m of flexible funding for local authorities entering COVID-19 protection level 4 – announced by the First Minister earlier this month – which can be used to pay for food and essentials.
The First Minister said:
“We will shortly become the only part of the UK to give low income families an extra £10 per week for every child – initially for children up to age 6 and then for every child up to age 16.
“This has been described as a game changer in the fight to end child poverty. The first payments will be made in February, but I know that for families struggling now, February is still a long way off.
“So I am announcing today a £100 million package to bridge that gap, and help others struggling most with the impact of COVID over the winter months.
“It will include money to help people pay their fuel bills and make sure children don’t go hungry. It will offer additional help for the homeless, and fund an initiative to get older people online and connected. And it will provide a cash grant of £100 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals.
“The money will be paid before Christmas and families can use it for whatever will help them through the winter.
“That could be food, new shoes or a winter coat for the kids. Families will know best what they need – that’s not for government to decide.
“Initiatives like this are not just about providing practical help to those who need it most – they are an expression of our values and of the kind of country we are seeking to build.”
The £100m Winter Plan for Social Protection has been developed to mitigate social harms posed by the concurrent risks of COVID-19, winter cost of living increases and EU exit, as well as to promote equality and human rights.
The full breakdown of the £100m fund is:
Support for families on low incomes (£22m)
Supporting services for children and young people (£23.5m)
Enhancing capacity within the third sector and communities (£15m)
Funds for local authorities moving into level 4 (£15m)
Further help with fuel costs (£7m)
Further investment in strategic national food activity (£2m)
Further investment to support people affected by homelessness (£5.14m)
Increased digital inclusion through Connecting Scotland for older people, support for social isolation and loneliness and strategic investment to promote equality (£5.91m)
A campaign on benefit uptake and income maximisation (£0.25m)
Reserve fund to meet potential pressures (£4.2m)