New welfare support scheme given the go ahead

A new support scheme to help vulnerable people facing crisis has been approved by Leeds City Council today.

Following a Government decision to abolish Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans members of the council’s executive board, today agreed to establish a new welfare support scheme locally, which will help families and vulnerable people faced with unforeseen difficulties or emergency situations.

Designed to tackle issues of fuel poverty, food poverty and financial exclusions, the new scheme will provide access to a range of support. It is intended that the scheme will be simple to access and therefore be able to swiftly deliver effective support to those who need it most.

The council will receive some funding from the government to provide this service for the first two years, but further funding cannot be guaranteed. For that reason the scheme has been developed to be as sustainable as possible and the Council is seeking to work closely with partner organisations, particularly within the third sector.

The new scheme aims to:

• Allow people to return or remain in their community without the need for extra care;

• Support the most vulnerable in urgent situations through signposting to appropriate support services, advice or through provision and access to goods, and;

• Engage individuals with appropriate support services where needed to prevent repeat applications and develop resilience.

The new welfare support scheme will differ from the government’s current schemes as it will focus on providing goods and services rather than cash payments. In order to make the scheme sustainable, the council will work with furniture reuse charities, supermarkets and voluntary organisations to provide goods and services at a reduced cost.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

“Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants provide vital emergency support for people who find themselves in very serious distress. The Government’s decision to abolish that support will leave a big gap and threatens to have a devastating impact on some of our most vulnerable residents. That is why we have chosen to use initial funding to set up a Welfare Support Scheme locally, which will help vulnerable people who are in the most urgent need.

“Protecting those vulnerable residents, especially in very difficult economic times, remains a key priority for the council. However, I remain deeply concerned about the significant ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of the funding that has only been confirmed for two years.”

To contact the Welfare Support team please call 0113 3760330