Apparently, the Government received over 5000 responses to the consultation on Local Welfare Assistance Funding back in November 2014. A phenomenal response, showing the strength of feeling about the loss of this vital last life-line or `safety net’ for people in crisis; FRN is still waiting for a direct response from Government about our concerns.
But guess what? When the Government announced Local Authority Financial Settlement plans on 19th December 2014, it also announced yet another consultation on the subject.
The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) is extremely concerned about the future loss of local welfare assistance provision, because:
The Department of Work & Pensions; local authorities; charities; and front-line services have no idea of the scale of unrecorded need of in-crisis households in England, and the demand this is placing on voluntary sector organisations and referral agencies.
- From a survey of FRN members in April 2014, approximately 348,000 in-crisis households have tried to obtain support from 250 FRN member organisations to get access to low-cost – often free - essential household goods (e.g. beds). Not all have been successful. This situation will be exacerbated post April 2015 if funding is not reinstated. Over 60% of these members are now providing food parcels on a consistent basis. They are not part of The Trussell Trust network of food banks.
- Most member organisations have now received suicide awareness training from Clinical Commissioning Groups in order to identify suicide risk factors and early indicators, which people in crisis are likely to exhibit. Furniture re-use charities are disappearing from deprived local communities, because the level of demand for waste and welfare solutions from local authorities has increased at a time when core funding support has been slashed.
- Furniture re-use charities are subsidising the State in its duty of care to support people in crisis, with an unsustainable business model that relies on repeat funding applications for a dwindling pot of money.
- People in crisis are turning to payday and door-step lenders in order to finance day-to-day living and to buy essential goods that the local authority cannot afford to support, or because the household fails to meet the authority’s eligibility criteria.
Why it is important to add your voice to the DWP Consultation
We now have 2 days to positively affect the fortunes of the most vulnerable members of society.
2 days that will fundamentally affect the lives and the life chances of hundreds of thousands of families in this country.
2 days that could make the difference between security, stability and hope for the future for society’s most vulnerable; or a lifetime of debt, child protection orders, mental illness, crime, homelessness…