The Guardian newspaper reported on 3rd January 2014 that the Government will be scrapping funding to local authorities which enables them to help people in crisis and in one-off emergency situations in their communities.
And this is the point.
Crisis. One-off emergencies.
It’s not a fund that creates a dependency culture which welfare reforms are trying to remedy; it’s a small fund that exists to help vulnerable people and families in one-off, crisis situations, such as:
- Women fleeing domestic violence with or without kids.
- People who have suffered a major upheaval or disaster (think recent flooding).
- Teenagers/adults leaving care.
In-kind benefits rather than cash are usually given, for example:
- Essential furniture i.e. a bed
- Paying a fuel bill
A local authority will even physically buy a train ticket for someone trying to find work and needing to get to interview.
The vast majority of us aren’t aware of it because fortunately, we’ve never been in such a dire financial crisis to call upon it. And, one has to be really desperate to apply because the labyrinthine process and eligibility criteria set by some local authorities is incredibly tough; mainly because local authorities were working in the dark when they took over this crisis loan-type responsibility from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) in April 2013 and the authorities had no idea what the demand would be on their reduced budget.
As a consequence of such strict eligibility criteria, coupled with the fact that this is a discretionary not a statutory local authority responsibility, the Coalition Government believes the need for this kind of support just isn’t that great.
They were intending to review the efficacy of the initial two year funding settlement to Local Authorities, but they’re not bothering.
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