June 10, 2024

GMPA issues joint briefing with partner organisations campaigning for the protection of local welfare support

By Laura Burgess, Senior Policy & Research Advisor at Resolve Poverty 

Resolve Poverty is proud to work alongside partner organisations like The Children’s Society, The Trussell Trust, End Furniture Poverty and many more in campaigning for a long-term, sustainable future for local welfare assistance schemes (LWAS) and it is through this group we have produced our most recent joint briefing.

Since 2013, LWAS have enabled local authorities to provide a safety net within the wider social security system, offering residents support during times of financial crisis, but these schemes have been subject to inconsistent funding which has led to a postcode lottery in access to these services.

The Covid-19 pandemic provided a temporary reprieve, and the government at Westminster committed more funding to schemes such as the Household Support Fund, which continued to provide support to people struggling through the cost-of-living crisis. Resolve Poverty was a vocal advocate for continuation of the Household Support Fund beyond the end of March 2024 and we were pleased that the government committed to extending the funding to September. However, we are clear that these short term, piece-meal pots of funding do not go far enough. We’ve heard from local authorities that they’ve struggled to plan and implement an effective LWAS because the short-termism means they cannot guarantee the funds will be there in future.

While LWAS are an important element of a local authority’s approach to supporting residents in poverty, they must not act as a substitute for an effective social security system. We are clear that these discretionary schemes should work alongside a functioning benefits system, but until the benefits system is reformed and made fit for purpose, it is evident that LWAS will play a big role in supporting people in financial distress.

LWAS and the ability of local authorities to tailor support to their residents means there is more scope for a cash-first approach to welfare support. We are clear that a cash-first approach maximises the choice, dignity and control of the recipient and provides a more dignified solution to crisis support than food parcels, energy vouchers or other types of in-kind support.

This briefing calls on the UK government to immediately announce an extension to the Household Support Fund to March 2025 whilst at the same time design and implement a long-term ring-fenced funding model to enable all local authorities to operate effective LWAS to support residents experiencing financial crises.

If you’d like to work with Resolve Poverty on establishing or evaluating your own local welfare assistance scheme, please contact laura@resolvepoverty.org for an initial conversation.


This article is featured in our 12 June newsletter.

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