I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his intervention. As ever, he makes a telling point: choices would be different in Scotland. We would choose not to have to mitigate something as horrendous as the bedroom tax, which was so ill thought out that the Tories did not take into account the fact that there are virtually no houses the highlands and islands that do not have more than one bedroom.
Since its establishment, the Scottish welfare fund has helped more than 275,700 households. The fund provides crisis grants when someone experiences a disaster or emergency and community care grants to enable independent living. We have also extended the Scottish welfare fund on an interim basis to mitigate the UK Government’s decision to remove housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds. In 2016-17, more than 17,500 applications for crisis grants were made because of delayed payment of benefits—that is around 10% of all applications. Between July and September 2017, that increased to 14%, clearly showing the impact of the Government’s harsh welfare cuts.
We have restored the council tax support cut in Westminster through the creation of council tax reductions, protecting the incomes of more than half a million people on low incomes. We have extended the child allowance in the council tax reduction scheme by 25%, benefiting 77,000 households by an average of £173 a year, or £15 a month. That boost for low-income families will help nearly 140,000 children across Scotland.
Following the UK Government’s decision to scrap the UK-wide scheme, we have safeguarded support for 2,600 disabled people through the Scottish independent living fund. We have now created an extra £5 million fund to support young disabled people to make the transition into adulthood.
To conclude, I urge the Minister to listen to hon. Members and to stop shifting the responsibility for his Government’s austerity agenda on to local authorities across the nations of the UK.