Mark Conrad 19 September 2018

Welfare support has 'collapsed' for many in England

One in six top-tier councils are not providing vital welfare services devolved to them just as the sector’s budget cuts hit hard.

A study of welfare support by Greater Manchester Poverty Action (GMPA) has found that support for vulnerable people who want to live independently and people facing sudden financial crisis has ‘collapsed’ in many areas of England.

The GMPA found spending on these areas has fallen by 69% - from £139m in 2012/13 to just £46.6m in 2017/18.

It discovered that - of 131 top-tier authorities for which data was provided - 22 do not operate local welfare schemes.

A further 29 local welfare schemes are deemed to be ‘under threat’ due to operating on annual budgets of less than £100,000.

Ministers opted to devolve responsibility for community care grants and crisis loans to local authorities in the form of welfare assistance schemes in 2013.

Researchers warned that local welfare schemes ‘come nowhere close’ to replicating past support.

GMPA director, Graham Whitham, said: ‘The Government’s hands-off approach to crisis support has failed.

'It was unrealistic to expect councils to pick up the responsibility for crisis support during a period when they have faced unprecedented cuts to their budgets.’

Mr Whitham urged ministers to provide annual, ring-fenced funding for schemes and make operating support programmes a statutory requirement.

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