THE number of people in East Renfrewshire asking the council for help to heat their homes and put food on the table has risen dramatically.

According to new figures from the Scottish Welfare Fund, the council saw a 75 per cent increase in people asking for emergency cash grants to help with basic household expenses between July and September last year.

The local authority saw the biggest increase in Scotland, which as a whole recorded a rise of four per cent on the previous year, with a total of 44,530 applications made for crisis grants and more than £2.2 million paid out.

Across the country, a total of 316,095 households are reported to have received cash from the Scottish Welfare fund since it was set up in April 2013 - with grants up until the end of September 2018 totalling £181.6m.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The fact that nearly a third of a million households in Scotland have required help from the Scottish Welfare Fund is a sad indictment of the UK Government’s record on welfare cuts.

“While it is absolutely right that we should help those individuals and families who find themselves in dire financial straits, it is appalling that so many find themselves in that position in the first place.”

With 11 per cent of crisis grant applications being made because of a delay in benefit payments, Ms Somerville said: “The figures also highlight the very real consequence of the UK Government’s maladministration of UK benefits system.

“Delays and errors in payments are forcing people to turn to the Scottish Welfare Fund to get them through immediate hardship.

“That is why we will provide local authorities with £33m in the next financial year - to support hard pressed families who, through no fault of their own, need help to simply get by.”