THE number of applications for emergency funding in West Dunbartonshire has dropped in the past year.

The Scottish Welfare Fund offers two different types of payout for people who are struggling.

The Community Care Grant is designed to help people be able to remain living independently in the community, while the Crisis Grant is funding which can be given to someone who is suffering from an unexpected event.

Crisis Grants can be handed out for a variety of reasons, from a broken kitchen appliance to a delay in benefits.

The number of applications for either grant received in West Dunbartonshire in 2017/18 was 7,945 - a two percent drop from 8,070 the year before.

Since the 2013/14 financial year, the amount of applications has dropped by around 14 percent, from 9,260 to 7,945.

Community Care Grant applications in the area rose slightly in the past year by just one percent, from 2,215 to 2,235.

Around 610 of the applications for the grant in the last year were made between January 1 this year and March 31.

Of this year’s recorded applications, the main reasons for applying were to help the person stay in the community, and to help families facing “exceptional pressure”.

During the same period, 1,635 applications were made for the Crisis Grants, the vast majority of which were in the aftermath of an emergency.

Cash is presented to local authorities from the Scottish Government, which they then dole out to applicants they deem to be in need.

Clydebank's MSP, Gil Paterson, said: “The Scottish Welfare Fund is a vital lifeline for many people facing poverty or personal crisis.

“The fact that so many households in West Dunbartonshire are in need of emergency financial help is appalling. It’s a sad indictment on the UK Tory government’s record on austerity and welfare changes.

“This money should be invested directly to tackle poverty rather than protecting people from Tory austerity.

“Indeed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty described it as outrageous that the Scottish Government had to divert funds to protect people from Westminster’s mess.

“The SNP will continue to do everything in our power to tackle poverty and support low income families in the face of the chaos wrought by Boris Johnston’s government in Westminster.”

West Dunbartonshire Council has one of the best response rates in the country, issuing 96 percent of crisis applications by the next day.