Scottish Government announces £30m COVID-19 hardship fund
A £30 million package of funding from the Scottish Government is being made available to local authorities to support people facing financial hardship as a result of coronavirus, including money to provide free school meals over the school holidays.
Local authorities will be given flexibility to use £20m, previously held in reserve for the Scottish Welfare Fund, to support people in their communities.
A further £10m has been made available so councils can continue providing free school meals through the winter breaks with future funding confirmed to extend support over Easter.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, cabinet secretary for social security and older people, said: “No one should be struggling to put food on the table, keep the lights on, or stay warm at home in the midst of this pandemic. With continuing uncertainty around Brexit and the furlough scheme being scaled back we are doing all we can to ensure the right support gets to people at the right time in the right way.
“We know a healthy meal during the school day helps children to learn – but right now it’s essential to support families at such a difficult time. This money will offer nutritious free meals for children or allow families to get food they desperately need.
“Those experiencing financial hardship can currently apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund and seek advice on which benefits they can receive. However, this will not be suitable for everyone: some people are not eligible for crisis grants or already receive the full benefits they are entitled to, while others may need immediate support with food and essentials.”
She added: “We are giving local authorities greater flexibility over funding held in reserve for the Scottish Welfare Fund, to support local action and address people’s needs. This may include supplementing local budgets for the Scottish Welfare Fund to meet demand, providing financial support to tackle food insecurity or to meet fuel costs, or boosting local…