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.
Alongside the main report, the following tools can help support local authorities in implementing the recommendations.
You can find GMPA 2018 research into local welfare assistance provision across England here