18 Dec 2014

Responding to the Government’s decision to retain dedicated funding for Local Welfare Assistance schemes, which councils use to help vulnerable families in crisis, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “We welcome the Government’s recognition that Local Welfare Assistance is an essential lifeline to families in crisis. Retaining funding for these schemes will provide relief for families who were on the verge of losing their last line of defence.

'At a time of increasing child poverty, high levels of problem debt, and cuts to support for families, it is more important than ever that dedicated funding is available to help get struggling families back on their feet and prevent a temporary financial emergency from spiralling into debt and outright destitution.

'Nevertheless, the Government’s decision to reduce annual funding from £172m to £130m will make it harder for councils to support vulnerable families facing a crisis. The requirement that town halls fund their schemes from within existing budgets may create a postcode lottery for many families in poverty.

'It is crucial that councils now keep in place local schemes and ensure they are easy to access, open to all families who face an emergency and are effectively advertised so those who need them know about them.

'More than 1,000 supporters of The Children’s Society responded to the Government’s consultation, calling for this important safety net to be protected, and they can feel proud of the part they played in persuading ministers to drop plans to cut all funding.

'We will continue to push for longer-term commitments to make sure families in emergency situations can be given the help they need when they need it most.'

Notes to Editor

• The Government’s decision was announced on Thursday 18 December as part of the Provisional local government finance settlement 2015 to 2016
• The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.

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