Posted: 29 May 2020

The need for local welfare assistance has never been greater

Now more than ever, we need to strengthen the safety net that local welfare provision should provide.

We have long been highlighting that sustained cuts to emergency support schemes are leaving families facing financial crisis with nowhere to turn. And we know that even a short-term financial crisis can have a profound impact on the children and young people living in a household experiencing it.

One in seven councils no longer offer local welfare assistance

Our research has demonstrated that in the past few years Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS), which provide vital immediate support to households facing an emergency, have been scaled back massively.

One in seven local councils in England no longer offer a LWAS at all, and many more have reduced the support they offer. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, with councils having faced years of cuts to their budgets at a time of increased demand for other services, and with no requirement for them to deliver this type of support.

Living from paycheque to paycheque

Even before coronavirus hit, too many families were living from paycheque to paycheque, struggling to make ends meet. Without savings or their own safety net to rely on, one unexpected event could result in disaster, leaving families without the ability to heat their home, pay the rent or feed their children.

The last two months have plunged many more into crisis, as people have had to contend with job losses, rising bills, illness and bereavement. Covid-19 has highlighted just how crucial a robust safety net is for struggling families to rely on, but the erosion of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes has meant that many families have often had to rely on foodbanks or support from other charities when crisis hits.

Covid-19 and damage to incomes

Now more than ever, with the Covid-19 pandemic threatening an unprecedented shock to incomes and the economy, it is vital that the Government leaves no family behind, and provides the resources, certainty and guidance to councils so that they can support families facing financial crisis.

That is why we have joined with other charities such as The Trussell Trust, Child Poverty Action Group, Independent Food Aid Network, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, StepChange Debt Charity and Turn2us to jointly ask the Government to provide councils with £250 million of additional funding for local welfare assistance this year.

This investment will help to ensure that this country can come through this crisis together, leaving no-one behind.

Support our call for this vital additional funding now by writing to Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Communities, Housing and Local Government now.


By Toby North

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