Brighton & Hove Greens have added their voices to the chorus of organisations campaigning against a proposed Government cut to a key lifeline for people in hardship.
Green councillors have formally responded to the Government’s consultation, calling on ministers not to cut funding for ‘Local Welfare Provision’ as it will affect the most deprived in the city. The scheme helps poor families struggling to make ends meet with one-off grants. Often this can be to replace a broken boiler, buy a new school uniform or put food on the table.
Council officials have made clear that without funding “there is a very clear risk of real and genuine suffering caused by hunger and cold occurring and further pressures being created on social services, health and housing budgets.”
Cllr Ollie Sykes, the Green Finance Lead stated “This fund prevents short-term problems escalating into bigger ones, saving the public purse and society money.
“A huge range of charities and organisations including the Child Poverty Action Group, Shelter, our neighbouring authorities West Sussex and East Sussex County Councils, and councillors of different political parties on BHCC, are calling for the government to keep the safety net for the poorest in our city.”
“The government was forced into a rushed consultation following a judicial review of the decision to scrap this emergency funding. Of the six options the government has offered, five require hard-pressed local councils to take up the funding gap. If we needed reminding, this shows once again the extent to which this coalition government is abandoning those in our society that most need support.”
Green Group’s response to the consultation in full
Information on the government consultation on Local Welfare Provision 2015-16: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/local-welfare-provision-in-2015-to-2016
In December last year the government announced they were planning to scrap the funding from April 2015. They had previously cut some of the funding to provide the scheme and passed responsibility to councils.
The local scheme funded with government grant is called the Local Discretionary Social Fund http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/content/council-tax-and-benefits/housing-benefit-council-tax-reduction-and-discretionary-help-44
Earlier this year the council agreed a bridging proposal for funding the scheme until 2017 in the absence of government funding http://present.brighton-hove.gov.uk/Published/C00000689/M00004690/AI00038271/$20140312114249_005359_0022816_LDSFreview.doc.pdf
The LGA and other organisations have been lobbying since then and recently the London Borough of Islington won in a judicial review against the government for the way they had gone about ceasing funding.
In ten months alone between May 2013 and January 2014 Brighton & Hove City Council’s LWP scheme provided Brighton & Hove households with: 308 beds, 219 cookers and 213 fridge/freezers; 352 households with food and 204 households with gas and electricity top-ups; and 122 households with shop cards for new clothing.