Dundee City Council is bracing itself for a major increase in demand for crisis grants following the roll-out of Universal Credit.
City councillors learnt last night that the spending on crisis grants in the last six to 12 months has shown a consistent decline.
Crisis grants are described as a “safety net” provided to people in the event of a disaster or emergency when there is an immediate threat to their health and safety.
Between April and September this year, the council received 4,695 applications.
Of these, 2,913 were granted, 1,767 refused and 303 withdrawn.
But in his report to the council’s policy and resources committee, Gregor Colgan, executive director of corporate services, said: “The service is anticipating a substantial increase in crisis grant applications with the start of Universal Credit in Dundee.”
Mr Colgan added that recent regulations required local authorities to make decisions on crisis grant applications no later than the end of the next working day.
Universal Credit replaces the six main benefits and tax credits — income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment support allowance, income support, child tax credits, working tax credits and housing benefit.
Sarah Glynn, of the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network in Dundee, said: “Universal Credit is destroying lives. We held a demonstration last week to make people aware of what is happening and reinforce our commitment to resist the government’s attacks on the welfare state.
“At our stalls outside the jobcentre, we regularly assist people with a multitude of problems resulting from so-called welfare reform — but this is only a sticking plaster on the gaping wound of a deliberately broken system.”
The UK Government has previously insisted that the new benefits system was helping to get people into work.
A spokeswoman told the Tele earlier this year the system was “fair to those who use it, as well as those who pay for it”, and said it was helping “millions of families meet the everyday cost of living and keep more of what they earn”.