Strengthening the role of local welfare assistance schemes

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.


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

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

GMPA's Household Support Fund: best practice briefing.

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:

This report 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:

Linked to the report are the following tools:

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 the author of the report “Strengthening the role of local welfare assistance”, Simons Watts, talking to
GMPA CEO Graham Whitham about the findings and key messages from the report in this podcast.


The decline of crisis support in England (September 2018)

This report examines local welfare assistance provision across England and why we need a new approach.


i3oz9sStrengthening the role of LWAS