THE number of Scots applying for emergency cash grants to help pay for food, heating and other basic expenses has increased by 11% in the last year.

Nearly 200,000 applications were made for crisis grants, with Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) saying the figure should “frankly shock” people across the country.

Statistics from the Scottish Welfare Fund showed the Scottish Government paid out more than £35 million in 2018-19 to those struggling to make ends meet.

The bulk of the cash, £24.8m, was paid out in community care grants, made to help people on a low income live independently in the community. A further £10.4 million was paid out in crisis grants.

A total of 70,425 applications were made for community care grants last year, of which 58% were approved. There were 193,230 applications for crisis grants, with 65% successful.

Mhoraig Green, social justice spokeswoman at CAS, said in response to the figures: “It should frankly shock people across the country that there were almost 200,000 applications for a crisis grant in Scotland in the last year.

“These figures show more needs to be done to tackle the causes of income crisis, particularly reducing the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments and high deductions to repay debt that leave people without enough to live on.”

Scottish Government Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The fact that so many households in Scotland are in need of emergency financial help is appalling and a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.

“As their welfare cuts continue to cause harm and damage, we continue to do our best to mitigate against them and provide financial support to low income families and carers through new social security benefits.”

Councils with the highest number of applications were Glasgow City, Fife and North Lanarkshire.