Local welfare assistance funds held back by councils

  • According to a research report, English local authorities have failed to spend almost a half of their share of an emergency fund for people in crisis.

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    The Centre for Responsible Credit using Freedom of Information requests carried out a study which found that 127 local authorities spent 52.8% of their £148.5m sharing of the local welfare assistance fund, Inside Housing reports. 

    In December, the government announced that the £172m national fund for local welfare assistance schemes would be ended in April this year.

    There was great opposition from councils, charities and representative bodies who were against the funding cut who advised that this change would have a seriously negative impact on families and vulnerable people.

    The study, ‘Where now for local welfare assistance schemes', found that 12 authorities spent 20% or less of their allocations and 26 spent more than 80% of their share.

    The report stated, ‘Our analysis indicates that there have been major problems in England with the implementation of local welfare schemes, and that provision varies considerably across the country.

    ‘This reduction in the overall level of provision has occurred at a time when the financial pressures on low income households have increased.

    ‘[The] government's own programme of welfare reform has contributed to this, with a large proportion of applications for crisis assistance fuelled by problems with the administration of key benefits.'

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