Our report, Nowhere to turn? Changes to emergency support highlights how some vulnerable children and families could be losing access to a vital safety net in times of crisis.
Changes to the Social Fund
In the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the government abolished some key elements of the discretionary Social Fund, Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants. From April 2013, these were replaced by local authority administered welfare assistance schemes providing emergency and community support for those in need.
The report outlines concerns that there has been a significant reduction in the budget with the move from national provision to local welfare assistance schemes. The funding available for the local schemes is not ring-fenced and has almost been halved (compared to equivalent spending in 2010).
The local emergency and community support available
The report also examines the local schemes to see what support is available locally for families and individuals in need. There are concerns that in some areas there is more restricted access to emergency support meaning families may face having to turn to high interest loans or illegal lenders.
We are calling on the government to ensure that local authorities are sufficiently funded and supported to provide this vital safety net. We have also set out recommendations for improving local schemes to make them as effective as possible for those families and individuals who need them.
Mapping local welfare assistance
We have also created a map with links to all the new local welfare assistance schemes.