THOUSANDS of people in Glasgow have been given welfare grants from a new fund.

The Scottish Welfare Fund was set up to provide community care grants and crisis grants after the powers were transferred north from Westminster.

In the first six months, between April and September last year, 7330 awards were made in the city.

The majority, 4460, were crisis grants for emergencies, mostly for food and heating at an average cost of almost £100 each.

The remaining 2870, were Community Care Grants, at an average of more than £900, to help people stay in their own home or set up a new home.

The grants in the city were higher than most other local authorities, with the Scottish average at £65 for crisis grants and £600 for Community Care.

Margaret Burgess, Welfare Minister, said: "It is heartbreaking to see the impact of welfare reforms laid bare, with people coming forward for help to buy everything from food to shoes to beds.

"These figures show over £18 million has now been claimed and we are expecting that to increase further as awareness of the fund grows."

Charities welcomed cash reaching people in need but were concerned at rising poverty.

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "It is welcome that these statistics show that more of the money that the Scottish Government has rightly set aside is reaching those in need.

"Worryingly, our services are seeing increasing numbers of families in severe poverty, struggling to meet their basic needs.

Graeme Brown director of Shelter Scotland said: "It is vital that people know about and can access help at their time of immediate need."