The View from Holyrood with Fiona McLeod MSP

The Scottish Government has announced provision in next year’s Scottish budget of £104million to tackle the effects of Westminster’s Welfare ‘Reform’.

This includes money to implement the Emergency Food Aid Action Plan which supports efforts to fight food poverty in Scotland, the Council Tax Reduction scheme and the Scottish Welfare Fund.

East Dunbartonshire Council has £429,232 to spend in 2014/15 under the Scottish Welfare Fund for crisis grants and community care grants.

That includes an under spend of £92,417 from last year’s Fund which gets carried forward because it can’t be spent on anything else by the council.

The fund is designed to alleviate suffering and help in times of crisis, and while I find it abhorrent that people are living in abject poverty in modern Scotland, East Dunbartonshire is getting the money to the people who need it and as quickly as possible. Scottish Government help is getting to the people who need it, when they need it.

I recently popped into the Kirkintilloch foodbank to hand in a donation.

The volunteers were starting to think about Christmas and the increase in demand that comes around the holidays – children are off school and at home needing fed.

At school they might ordinarily get a free school meal which would see them through the day – the demand on sparse family supplies is high and during the winter the food budget is already stretched to help cover the additional heating costs. The charity has recently expanded into Auchinairn and already has a clinic in Milngavie.

What I’d like to say is that it can be easy to dismiss the plight of people affected by Westminster’s Welfare Cuts as welfare cheats or in some other way of having brought their problems upon themselves if you were to believe the ‘news’ reported in certain daily newspapers. We cannot let that continue –elderly people, disabled men and women, your neighbours and their children– everyone and anyone could find themselves in the position where benefit sanctions, disability reassessments or pension changes mean life gets unbearably hard. So until we have the powers we need over the Welfare System, the Scottish Welfare Fund will continue to have people’s backs in times of crisis.