Falkirk Council were forced to withdraw a press statement that gave credit to the UK Government for an anti poverty initiative from the Scottish Government. The embarrassing climb down was over a press statement issued by the council press office in the name of council leader, Craig Martin on the availability of assistance from the “Scottish Welfare Fund”.
In the press release Martin claimed the fund was set up by the UK Government and the budget devolved to Scotland when the reality is that the budget was slashed by the UK Government and the fund designed to assist those I need is mostly funded by the Scottish Government.
Martin also fails to mention that his Labour /Tory Administration pledged £35,000 to the fund but only contributed less than £3,000, a fact uncovered by the SNP.
There are strict rules governing the political content of council publications and press releases and the SNP believe they have been breached on this occasion.
Falkirk West MSP, Michael Matheson, intervened and said,
“It certainly appears that a press statement that was factually inaccurate was issued by Falkirk Council press office that talked up an aspect of the Tory Welfare Reforms and ignored the action of the SNP Government in Edinburgh to counter the Welfare Cuts.
Not only does this speak volumes about Labour Party support for the Tory cuts it also raises serious concerns over the use of what should be a politically neutral press office in the run up to the referendum in September.”
The Falkirk element of the Scottish Welfare fund amounts to £469,800, which is made up from £179,000 from the Department of Works and Pensions, £288,000 from the Scottish Government and £2,800 from Falkirk Council.
Copy of the Falkirk Council press release,
Scottish Welfare Fund Can Lend a Hand
Residents in the Falkirk Council area who find themselves in a crisis situation can receive voucher or material assistance thanks to the Scottish Welfare Fund.
Created in 2013 under UK Government Welfare Reform changes, the Scottish Welfare Fund can provide help in a variety of ways, such as food vouchers or furniture, to people who find themselves in need of support.
Under the Fund, there are two types of grant available:
- Crisis Grants which can provide essential items such as food, an electric or gas energy supply or clothing in the event of a disaster or emergency.
- Community Care Grants can help people leave care and live independently, or to continue living independently by providing a wide range of basic household items.
To get the message across that the Scottish Welfare Fund can provide assistance, Falkirk Council is leading an awareness campaign throughout April to make sure everyone who is entitled to help receives it.
Posters are being displayed on the inside and the backs of bus services in the area and in bus shelters. Advertisements are running on the local radio station Central FM, Falkirk Council’s Twitter account is promoting the fund and information leaflets are available at all One Stop Shops.
Council Leader Craig Martin said: “The Scottish Welfare Fund provides support to anyone living in the Falkirk Council area who finds themselves in need.
“We can assist in lots of ways if you are struggling to make ends meet. While the help you will receive will depend on your circumstances, applicants do not have to be receiving benefits to apply. We are also helping people who are on low incomes.
“It is important to us that people know the Scottish Welfare Fund is there and able to help them.”
A Crisis Grant can support you if you are in crisis because of a disaster like a fire or flood, or an emergency such as being robbed or burgled. If you qualify for a Crisis Grant, the help you receive will depend on the particular difficulties you face. You may be given a food voucher, fuel card, travel ticket or furniture.
A Community Care Grant can help if you are about to leave care to live on your own in the community, or face going into care because you don’t have the support you need to continue living at home.
It can also help ease exceptional pressure by providing essential items, such as a cooker or a washing machine, if you are struggling and don’t have the money to buy these items yourself.
As with the Crisis Grant, if you qualify for a Community Care Grant the help you receive will depend on your circumstances. Neither grant has to be paid back.
For more information about how the Scottish Welfare Fund can help you, please call us on 01324 503603 or speak to a member of staff at any of our One Stop Shops.
For further information, please visit www.falkirk.gov.uk/welfarereform.
Notes to Editors
The Scottish Welfare Fund was launched in April 2013. It replaced Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants which were previously issued by the Department of Work and Pensions.