To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the decision to abolish the Discretionary Social Fund and replace it with local welfare assistance schemes has had on the ability of people experiencing a financial crisis to access monetary support.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether her Department has departmental responsibility for local welfare assistance schemes.
Local welfare assistance is an umbrella term used describe local authority provision for people who are in need of urgent help. Local authorities’ abilities to act in this area are provided under various powers, for example, section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000 enables local authorities to provide financial assistance to any individual.
Since the reforms to the Social Fund in 2013 which abolished Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants, the Local Government Financial Settlement has included a notional amount relating to local welfare provision in each upper-tier and unitary authority’s general grant. The settlement for 2015-16 set this amount at £129.6 million for England in each year until 2019/20.
The Department for Work and Pension's (DWP) 2014 review found that local authorities delivered support more effectively than the previous provision and that councils are best placed to decide how to target flexible help to support local welfare needs. The Government has no further plans to review provision.