Below is the latest statement from the council regarding the new Local Assistance Network.

"The County Council established the Local Assistance Network in order to provide emergency assistance to low income households and to assist vulnerable people who need help to sustain their independence. The scheme commenced in April when the Job Centre Plus offices stopped providing Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans.

So far the Local Assistance Network providers have assisted nearly 1,000 applicants. The scheme does not offer cash assistance or loans but does provide in kind assistance with essential items. Assistance is provided through a range of voluntary agencies as well as the County Council’s own Children and Family Centres. People can get information on how to get help through their local Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Local Assistance Network is providing a more timely, flexible and responsive service. By using the capacity of voluntary sector provision already in place, along with a voucher scheme, we are able to ensure that resources are targeted to where they are most needed. Moreover we have been able to reduce overheads and channel more of the funding provided into direct assistance for those who need it most."