October 2012 – Local Authorities to Run Social Fund
From 2013 local authorities will have responsibility for meeting the needs of claimants for one-off items currently met by Community Care Grants and for emergency financial support for all local residents through Crisis Loans.
This move is being made at a time when anticipated levels of expenditure – especially on Crisis Loans is expected to increase in the next few years, leading to serious concerns that local authorities will have insufficient funds to meet local demand. This is likely to impact on those most vulnerable as they have to face other cuts in benefit provision relating to the ‘austerity measures’, the impact of the local housing allowance cap, the introduction of Universal Credit in October 2013 and the replacement of DLA with the Personal Independence Payment, or PIP for short.
Many authorities have yet to decide what kind of scheme they will offer, although many are attracted to the potential savings that could be made by moving to a ‘payments in kind’ scheme and bulk buying. Whatever scheme authorities finally decide on, it is likely that they will have to keep some provision for cash payments especially for emergencies such as fuel disconnection.
What is clear is that there will be another postcode lottery where entitlement and level of provision will vary from borough to borough with the risk that those who have to move across authorities, such as those who have experienced domestic violence may find it harder to access support.
It seems that whenever a government faces the prospect of increasing expenditure in social welfare provision that it cannot find a way of managing, the answer is to ‘localise’ it – which in effect makes it someone else’s problem.
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Copyright 2012 Latitude Consortium Ltd.