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New fund to improve benefit take-up

Support for third sector organisations delivering Scotland’s new benefits system.

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A new £500,000 fund is being opened for organisations that help people accessing the benefits to be delivered by the Scottish Government.

The Scottish Benefit Take-up Fund will support charities and third sector organisations in their work to address barriers that prevent people from applying for benefits.

This includes tackling perceived stigma and supporting people through the application process.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We believe social security is an investment in the people of Scotland, and it should help tackle poverty.

“This new fund will help charities and third sector organisations get prepared for the new system we are creating. It will have a particular emphasis on helping those who are new to applying for benefits and assisting harder-to-reach people.

“Encouraging individuals to claim the financial assistance they are entitled to is a duty of government and a social responsibility.

“I have heard from far too many people who currently fear accessing welfare support. They know only of stigma, stress and anxiety.

“I am determined we do not replicate these negative experiences with the benefits we deliver.

“I want organisations to be equipped to provide information and promote the take-up of benefits. Whether it is training staff, getting information ready, or delivering promotional materials, we want to support organisations who support the people of Scotland.”

Jeremy Hewer, SFHA Policy Lead, said: “Any initiative to improve the take-up of benefits is to be welcomed.

“We know too many tenants are being dragged further into poverty because of the impact of the four-year freeze and cap on benefits, the two-child limit and the transition to the five-week wait for the first Universal Credit payment.

“Social housing providers do all they can to support their tenants with these increasing problems, and I am sure many will welcome the opportunity to access this fund when it opens in November.

“However, this will only partially mitigate against the devastating effects current UK Government welfare policies are causing people. We will continue to campaign for the urgent changes required to improve the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable in our communities.

“SFHA will be working with its sister organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to press on with our #SixAsks campaign for vital improvements to the benefits system.”

The Scottish Benefit Take-up Fund will open for bids in November 2019.

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