Published — 27 June, 2019

Welfare assistance schemes

Thank you for contacting me about Local Welfare Assistance Schemes.

I agree that Local Welfare Assistance Schemes should help claimants in urgent need following an emergency or unforeseen event and have no other source of help.

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 DWP has no plans to change these arrangements and has not placed on them any duties, expectations or monitoring requirements in this area. There are, however, other measures which have been introduced to help those who experience hardship.

Following Autumn Budget 2017, the DWP introduced a range of measures to support people at the point of claim. This includes making advances of up to 100 per cent of the indicative Universal Credit (UC) award available from the start of a claim, and removing the seven waiting days.

Measures introduced at Autumn Budget 2018 provided further assistance for claimants. These include reducing the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a UC award from 40 per cent to 30 per cent of the standard allowance from October 2019, with the period over which these recoveries are made extended from 12 to 16 months in October 2021. Additionally, since April 2019, there has been a £1,000 increase in work allowances, which will provide a £630 boost for households with children, and for people with disabilities.

UC claimants may also be able to access the Flexible Support Fund, which is a flexible and discretionary fund which provides non-repayable support to claimants, in financial need, to move into work.

I know this is not the answer you are hoping for, but I will continue to follow this issue closely and support improvements when necessary.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.