More than 100,000 households have received grants from the Scottish Welfare Fund in its first 15 months of operation, according to figures released by the country's chief statistician today.

Since the scheme began in April 2013, over £38m has been allocated, either in community care grants – which help people to live independently – or crisis grants, which provide a safety net in a disaster or emergency, helping people set up home or stay in the community rather than being in care.

A total of 43,000 households received 48,000 awards for community care grants, averaging around £640 per award, typically for white goods, furnishings and floor coverings; and around 70,000 households – including 13,000 households who had also received community care grants, received a total of 108,000 crisis grant awards, averaging around £70 per award. Most such awards were for food, essential heating costs and other living expenses.

Of the households helped, nearly 55,000 were single people and nearly 32,000 were families with children.

Delivered by local authorities on a voluntary basis since April 2013, the Scottish Welfare Fund will be put on a statutory basis under the Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill, currently before the Scottish Parliament. (Click here for report.)

Welfare Minister Margaret Burgess said it was "heartbreaking to see the impacts of welfare reforms laid bare, with people coming forward and applying for help to buy everything from food to shoes to beds".

She added: "These figures show that demand for the welfare fund is high and is reaching out to those in the most deprived areas of Scotland. That’s why it is important that we take forward our new Welfare Funds (Scotland) Bill to set out how welfare funds will operate within local authorities to help those most in need."