William Eichler 24 September 2021

Local welfare assistance in London increased 368% during pandemic

Local welfare assistance in London increased 368% during pandemic image

London boroughs dramatically increased local welfare assistance for residents during the pandemic and warn that the financial pressure on the capital’s residents is only likely to worsen over the next few months.

Research by the cross-party group London Councils has revealed that applications to boroughs’ local welfare assistance schemes during the first lockdown were 190% higher than the same period in 2019, with one borough seeing a 329% increase in applications across 2020/21.

Councils run local welfare assistance schemes and distribute other forms of welfare support to residents at immediate risk of financial crisis – the aim being to prevent problems from spiralling and households becoming homeless.

Overall, London boroughs made almost 40,000 local welfare assistance payments awards in 2020/21, with the average payment being £242. Boroughs increased their local welfare assistance budgets from £2m to a total value of £9.6m – a rise of 368%.

London Councils’ research also found that boroughs were struggling to find sufficient funds for discretionary housing payments, which are distributed by councils to help residents meet housing costs.

The Government provided a record £179.5m of national funding in 2020/21 for discretionary housing payments.

However, according to London Councils, the capital’s allocation of £43.7m was not sufficient to meet demand. The group found that boroughs in the capital saw a 5% overspend on these payments, compared to a 6% underspend in the rest of England and Wales.

The average discretionary housing payment made by London boroughs was significantly larger in 2020/21 at £1,600 compared to £1,170 in 2019/20.

According to the group, this suggests Londoners are facing larger shortfalls when trying to meet their housing costs.

Cllr Muhammed Butt, London Councils’ executive member for Welfare, Empowerment and Inclusion, said: ‘Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen a dramatic spike in Londoners approaching their local borough for help. Many of these residents have lost jobs and are at severe risk of spiralling debt and homelessness.

‘Councils play an important role in propping up the welfare safety net, but there’s only so much we can do with the limited resources the Government provides us. Ministers should use the Spending Review to restore funding for local welfare assistance and boost boroughs’ ability to support those in need.’

It’s now or never for modern democracy image

It’s now or never for modern democracy

The electoral landscape is now ‘more crowded than ever’, while council resources have been ground down, says Laura Lock – and she warns that professionals do not have limitless capacity.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Social Worker

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
£30,451 - £34,728 per annum
We are looking for a Social Worker for a fixed-term 12 month contract to cover maternity. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Governance Officer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£22,627 to £24,491
For further information on the role please click. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Team Manager Family Connect

Telford & Wrekin Council
£45.859 to £48.841 per annum
We're looking for an enthusiastic, highly motivated and experienced Team Manager with substantial experience.  Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Experienced Children's Senior Social Worker - Assessment /Family Safeguarding

Telford & Wrekin Council
£38,890 - £41,881 per annum
As one of our Senior Social Workers we will support you to develop your skills and knowledge when working with families using a restorative approach. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Social Worker

Telford & Wrekin Council
£38,890 - £41,881 per annum
This is an exciting time for Telford and Wrekin’s Children’s Social Care as we move forward on our Transformation Journey.   Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue