Strengthening social security

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 are a vital lifeline for people experiencing financial hardship. At best, local welfare assistance schemes not only mitigate the immediate crisis but help people find sustainable pathways out of poverty.

It’s important to give low-income residents maximum dignity, choice and control when accessing local welfare support. We advocate that this is best done through a ‘cash first’ approach, which prioritises providing support to people in the form of cash grants and loans rather than vouchers, food aid or goods (in-kind support). Learn more in our cash first briefing.


At GMPA we have produced several outputs to support local authorities and partner organisations across Greater Manchester with strengthening local welfare provision.

Future of crisis support summit (January 2024)

On Tuesday 30 January 2024, GMPA, alongside the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), End Furniture Poverty and Cash Perks, held an online summit sharing best practice on crisis support and advocating for the permanent extension of the Household Support Fund.

Money Matters: unlocking extra income for families – a policy report (January 2024)

Kellogg’s partnered with Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA) to pilot Money Matters, a scheme that put benefits advisors directly into schools to help parents access the support they are eligible for. In the first year alone 104 families received more than £163,009 in unclaimed benefits. Now Kellogg’s and GMPA are encouraging the government to roll out Money Matters across the rest of the UK, so more families can benefit from this life changing programme and access money to which they are already entitled.

Household Support Fund: best practice briefing (April 2023)

This briefing explores how local authorities can maximise the impact of the HSF to support low income residents.

Local welfare assistance schemes: best practice (June 2022)

This briefing aims to illustrate the guiding principles of local welfare assistance schemes along with examples of best practice from four local authorities across the UK.

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i3oz9sStrengthening the role of LWAS