More than £4.3 million has been paid to cash strapped families in West Dunbartonshire since 2013.

The extent of the support given to families across the area is revealed in updated figures issued by the Community Welfare Fund.

Details are given for community care grants, which the fund pays to families facing exceptional pressures, and crisis grants which help people on a low income who are in crisis because of an emergency.

Since 2013, community care grants paid in West Dunbartonshire totalled £3.039 million, while crisis granted added up to £1.326m.

In the second quarter of this year - the latest period included in the figures - families in West Dunbartonshire made 530 claims for community care grants.

Only 340 were accepted and the total paid was £126,191, an average of £373.

A total of 1,385 claims were made for crisis care grants during the same period, with 1125 being accepted.

The total payout for crisis grants was £66,880, with an average payment of £60.

A total 24,075 crisis grants have been given in the area since 2013, with an average award of £55.

Community care grants issued since 2013 totalled 7,420, with an average award of £410.

Since 2013, a total of £3.03 million has been spent on community care grants in the area.

The figures also show that since 2013 claims have been fairly steady with no significant fluctuation in the number of claims.

Nationally, total of £173 million has now been paid through the Scottish Welfare Fund, with 306,305 low income households benefitting.

A total of 306,305 low income households have been helped to pay for essential items through emergency grant funding since 2013.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “It is a sad fact of life for many families that an unexpected expense can completely disrupt a carefully managed household budget. People should never have to face a choice between eating or heating.

“The Scottish Welfare Fund was created to provide a vital lifeline for people in times of need, allowing them to cover the everyday necessities.

“And while I am pleased that the fund has been able to help over 300,000 households across the country since its start, I am dismayed that so many people find themselves in the position of needing to access emergency help.

“As the UK Government persists with the roll out Universal Credit, forcing more and more families into poverty, we are going to continue to see an increase in people needing such support. Scotland will have lost £3.7 billion in welfare benefits a year by the end of this decade.

“The Chancellor’s announcement of extra funding towards Universal Credit does not get close to mitigating the damaging impact of this policy and families will still have less money in their pockets and a minimum five week delay before getting Universal Credit

“Therefore we will not stop calling on the UK Government to halt the roll out of this fundamentally flawed system. We are spending over £125 million this year alone trying to allay the very worst effects of the UK Government’s harmful welfare cuts and protect those on low incomes.

“As a Government we will always do what we can to support hard pressed families who, through no fault of their own, are struggling to make ends meet.”