Localised Support Scheme

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Purpose The government published the White Paper "Universal Credit: welfare that works" in October 2010. The White Paper detailed the government's proposals for wide-ranging welfare reform which have subsequently been included within the Welfare Reform Act. Included within the proposals was reform of the Discretionary Social Fund which is currently administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This is to be replaced with discretionary local provision, administered by top-tier or unitary local authorities from April 2013.

The government stated that it believed the service would be better delivered locally and this will allow local communities to better identify and meet the needs of the most vulnerable. It has also identified that through localising the service it may be possible to improve the quality of decision making and work alongside other local programmes that provide assistance.

The government believes that it is not sustainable to increase the money it invests in the Discretionary Social Fund and has taken steps to reduce this amount before the system is transferred to local authorities in 2013.

The apportionment of national budget to individual authorities is based on proposed 2012/13 spend by the Department of Work and Pensions for each area. In Lancashire this means an allocation of funding of 2.9 million for 2013/14. This is a cash limited fund and is much less than the Department for Work and Pensions spent in Lancashire in previous years.

The last full year's data available is from 2010/2011 which indicated that in Lancashire there were around 50,000 applications and that expenditure by the DWP equated to just under 5.2 million. More recent data for April to September 2011 indicates this may reduce to 39,000 applications and 3.4 million per annum.

The elements of the Discretionary Social Fund that will be replaced with local provision are:

- Crisis Loans
- Community Care Grants

Crisis Loans are to meet immediate needs such as general living expenses or items needed following a disaster and entitlement is not dependent upon receipt of a benefit.

Community Care Grants (CCG's) are non-repayable grants to enable vulnerable customers to live in the community and are conditional upon receipt of an income related benefit. Budgeting Loans are also part of the Social Fund but will not transfer and will be replaced by new arrangements under Universal Credit.

This is and will be an essential service that many of the most vulnerable depend upon, especially at times of crisis or when establishing a new home in the community.

The government has stated that there will be no new statutory duty requiring local authorities to deliver the service, however the county council realises that the basis of need is unlikely to change significantly and that this service is essential to our community.

The authority must determine its own policy for the administration of the Localised Support Scheme including matters such as eligibility, awards, methods of award and the review/appeal mechanism. It will have to design a service that is effective and efficient in meeting the immediate needs of claimants requiring financial support.

Subject Other topic
Commissioned by George Graham - Deputy County Treasurer
Geographic area All of Lancashire
Method Questionnaire - online
Consultation with General public
Date 12/10/2012 - 23/11/2012
Undertaken by Julie Hughes - Business Improvement Manager

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Contact information

For more information about this research contact:

Julie Hughes (01772) 536162
Email: julie.hughes2@lancashire.gov.uk