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Almost £50million made available to support
families and individuals across Aberdeenshire

Just under £50million has been made available to support families and individuals facing financial difficulties across Aberdeenshire over the past year.

The money was made available through a range of schemes administered by Aberdeenshire Council to help those facing financial challenges and crises, supporting everything from rent and council tax payments to school clothing and school meals.

A breakdown of the funding was brought before members of the authority’s Communities Committee at its latest meeting, as councillors heard of the ongoing challenges around the cost of living.

Members heard that additional funding was made available during the pandemic to help alleviate poverty, supporting the work of council services, landlords, foodbanks and third sector organisations to help them meet the demand for advice and support.

Among the funding provided was just under £28.8million in housing benefit, £1.4million of discretionary housing payments, and council tax reductions of almost £9million for low-income households.

A further £732,497 was used to make 6,300 crisis grant awards, and £642,351 to make 1,111 community care grants; both as part of the Scottish Welfare Fund. A report before councillors noted applications for crisis grants have increased over the past year.

In terms of education, the council made payments of £133,390 as school clothing grants, and direct payments of £689,730 for free school meals for families on low income.

A number of additional financial support schemes were introduced during the pandemic to help low-income families and those who would face challenges by having to isolate, with more than £7.37million made available through various routes.

In addition, a variety of projects benefited from just over £1million from the Fairer Aberdeenshire Fund to tackle child poverty, support financial and digital inclusion, employability, health and wellbeing, and to support the information and advice framework.

A further £571,521 was spent on the costs associated with supporting families in receipt of free school meals, the Community Food Fund, and the Partners Fund, which supported communities experiencing financial insecurity.

Speaking after the meeting, Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said: “Both the pandemic and the ongoing challenges around the cost of living have placed and are continuing to place additional pressure on individuals and families across Aberdeenshire.

“That’s why it’s so important to take a collaborative approach by a range of teams across the council, our partners and stakeholders to lessen the impact of these challenges, and this work will continue to support those facing financial insecurity.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr Hannah Powell said: “Tackling poverty and inequalities is at the forefront of the council’s work to help those in Aberdeenshire who are facing financial and other difficulties.

“There are various routes of potential support, and I would encourage anybody facing difficulties to contact our money advice and welfare rights team to see which options may be available to them.” 

Over the past year, the Money Advice and Welfare Rights Team received 710 referrals for advice, information and support, resulting in more than £1.54million of support to individuals and families.

The money advice and welfare rights team can be contacted via https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/benefits-and-grants/money-and-welfare-advice/

From Aberdeenshire Council