New local welfare assistance cash ‘falls far short’

The Children’s Society has warned the £63m announced by Boris Johnson for local welfare assistance schemes ‘falls far short’ of what is actually needed.

Speaking yesterday (10 June) in Parliament, the prime minister said the government was making £63m of local welfare assistance available to be ‘used by local authorities at their discretion to help the most vulnerable families’.

The Children’s Society’s director of policy, Sam Royston, said while the money is ‘very welcome’, it still ‘falls far short of the £250m urgently needed’.

‘Local welfare schemes have been gradually eroded, with one in seven local authorities now offering no scheme at all,’ added Mr Royston.

‘Our recent research found spending on emergency financial support has fallen by £250 million compared to support provided through predecessor schemes in 2010, with 63% of councils cutting spending between 2015 and 2019.

‘It is therefore vital that this money is ring-fenced for local welfare schemes and that the government requires all areas to have a scheme in place. Without this guidance, there is a real risk that families facing financial crisis will continue to have nowhere to turn to prevent destitution,’ he added.

The chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, Cllr Richard Watts, said it was pleased that the government has listened to its call for funding to help pay for this much needed additional support.

‘Councils and their partners in the voluntary sector continue to work tirelessly to help households facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, many of whose circumstances changed overnight,’ said Cllr Watts.

‘Many of these pressures were increased by lockdown measures and social distancing, such as having children home from school or not being able to shop for essentials.

‘Many households are likely to be economically vulnerable for some time to come and it is vital that the Government puts local welfare funding on a long-term, sustainable footing. The ability of councils to provide preventative support to all households who need it is vital if they are to ensure households can be financially secure and can benefit from council efforts to reboot local economies once the virus is defeated.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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