Events in March will explore strengthening local welfare provision
Local welfare assistance schemes can play a central role in the local safety net, meeting people’s immediate needs and averting deepening hardship and deprivation.
Lack of government guidance and support on how schemes should operate means that they have evolved differently in each locality and not everywhere in England has a scheme in place. All ten of our Greater Manchester boroughs have worked hard to retain local provision and there are some examples of good practice locally. However, we also know that more needs to be done to scale up that good practice across the city region, raise awareness of schemes and ensure local support best meets the needs of low-income residents.
Research by GMPA has found that the type of support, how support is accessed, knowledge of schemes and the level of funding that goes into them varies considerably from one borough to the next.
As we enter a period that will lay bare the economic damage of COVID-19, Greater Manchester Poverty Action’s latest report (published in December) – Strengthening the role of local welfare assistance – provides a series of recommendations to improve schemes.
The recommendations include taking a ‘cash first’ approach to supporting people, simplifying the application process, taking a case worker approach to supporting residents that helps prevent future financial hardship and ensuring schemes can be accessed by different population subgroups.
Most of the recommendations in the report come at no-cost. Where there are cost implications, upfront investments are suggested that will deliver savings in the long run by improving outcomes for residents and reducing pressure on other services.
Local authority delivered local welfare schemes need to be joined up with other help in each locality, enabling councils, housing providers and VCSE sector organisations to coordinate support.
Alongside the report, GMPA has produced tools for local authorities and their partners to use to enhance schemes and measure their effectiveness.
GMPA will be holding an event on Tuesday March 23rd, from 10am using Zoom to explore the findings and recommendations from the report. This event is aimed at people working for local authorities, housing providers, VCSE sector organisations and other stakeholders. To book your place click here.
At the event you’ll hear from report author Simon Watts and Graham Whitham, GMPA Chief Executive. There will be opportunity for questions and presentations will take attendees through the support tools developed alongside the report.