Three quarters of English local authorities will have to scale-back or scrap support for vulnerable people

The Local Government Association (LGA) has published details of a survey showing that up to three quarters of English local authorities will have to either significantly scale back crisis support for vulnerable people or scrap their provision entirely, if Government goes ahead with its plans to remove funding for Local Welfare Schemes.

The local authority schemes were set up in April 2013 following the end of the national crisis loan and community care grant elements of the Social Fund. Whilst some authorities have previously been criticised for failing to spend their funding allocation, a new report written by Inclusion for the LGA highlights considerable good practice from a sample of ten local authority schemes.

The report indicates that the move away from cash payments to in-kind assistance has focused resources on those in greatest need and that local authorities are operating more efficiently than the prior Social Fund schemes. It argues Government should reverse its decision not to continue to fund the schemes from next March as local authorities are beginning to use this in innovative ways to address the underlying problems of households in financial crisis or with community care needs. 

Speaking via The Guardian, Councillor Claire Kober, chair of the resources board of the LGAsaid: “If government pulls the plug on funding from April, many local authorities will be unable to afford to make up the difference at a time when we are tackling the biggest cuts to council funding in living memory.

“For some local authorities, where budgets are already on the brink, they will have no choice but to close their local welfare assistance schemes down altogether.”