Strengthening the role of local welfare assistance schemes

The government used to operate a crisis support scheme called the Discretionary Social Fund. This supported vulnerable people to live independently in their homes, and people facing a sudden financial crisis. It was an important and necessary part of the social security safety net, preventing people from falling into hardship and alleviating pressure on other parts of the welfare system.

From 2013, the Discretionary Social Fund was replaced by local welfare assistance schemes operated by top tier councils in England. However, this change was made in the context of severe cuts to local authority budgets and to working age benefits. This acted to limit the ability of councils to respond to need at a time when the number of people facing a financial crisis was increasing.

Local welfare assistance schemes are not mandatory and funding for them isn’t ringfenced. Thankfully all ten of our Greater Manchester boroughs have worked hard to retain local provision. Local welfare assistance schemes have the potential to play an even greater role in responding to the needs of people facing a financial crisis, and in helping prevent people reach a crisis in the first place.

GMPA’s report – Strengthening the role of local welfare assistance – identifies a series of recommendations for local authorities and their partners in Greater Manchester to adopt. The report draws on good practice from both within and outside the city-region.

Bubble for LWAS report for GM Poverty Action

Alongside the main report, the following tools can help support local authorities in implementing the recommendations.

Local welfare assistance scheme checklist for local authorities and partners

Measuring the effectiveness of local welfare assistance schemes

Speaker for GM Poverty Action podcasts
You can listen to report author, Simons Watts, talking to GMPA Chief Executive Graham Whitham about the findings
and key messages from the report in this podcast.

You can find GMPA 2018 research into local welfare assistance provision across England here 

i3oz9sStrengthening the role of LWAS