Local Welfare Provision
Disability Rights UK Factsheet F61
Local Welfare Provision has replaced parts of the Department for Work and Pensions Social Fund since April 2013. For more information on changes to the social fund see Factsheet F41 - the social fund.
It is now the responsibility of your local authority to set up a Local Welfare Provision scheme in your area. Each authority is free to make up its own scheme, though they don't have to call it Local Welfare Provision and it is not intended that any scheme will be the same as the old social fund schemes.
Local authorities in England are running a number of different schemes though generally they are not proposing to offer cash except in exceptional circumstances and are looking to limit any such payments to small amounts.
- having services delivered by the council
- having services contracted out to other organisations
- the provision of grants
- using 'no interest’ loans
- the use of Credit Union loans.
- providing 'white goods' - for example supplying a fridge rather than giving you the money to buy one
- the use of prepayment cards
- the use of vouchers.
Councils may use one or more of these ideas in combination. The Children's Society has created an online database of services available in your area at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-views/our-blog/find-your-local-welfare-assistance-scheme
Northern Ireland has decided that a new discretionary support provision will be introduced, later this year, to replace community care grants and crisis loans. Unlike England, responsibility for this will not be hived off to local authorities but will be administered by the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency.
It is intended that this discretionary support provision will help claimants who find themselves in urgent financial need as a result of a crisis or emergency. Payment will be either a grant or loan, although replacement goods are also being considered. Your income and eligibility will also be taken into account as part of the assessment.
Scotland has set up the Scottish Welfare Fund (SWF) will be a national scheme run by local authorities. Full details of the new scheme can be found at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/scottishwelfarefund.
You will be able to claim two types of grants
- crisis grants - to help you if you are in crisis because of a disaster or an emergency (this will usually be for people on benefits)
- community care grants - to help you, if you are on benefits, and you need support either to prevent you going into care or to help you leave any form of care and set up your own home.
The SWF will be a discretionary, budget-limited scheme that prioritises applications according to need. It will provide grants that do not have to be repaid. It will not provide loans.
For information about how to apply in your area go to www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/welfarereform/scottishwelfarefund/howtoapplytothescottishwelfarefund
The Welsh Government has set up a Discretionary Assistance Fund, which is run by Northgate Public Services in partnership with Family Fund Trading and Wrexham County Borough Council. The Discretionary Assistance Fund will be entirely grant based and will provide payments or in kind support for two purposes:
- Individual Assistance Payment - to enable independent living or continued independent living, preventing the need for institutional care.
- Emergency Assistance Payment - to provide assistance in an emergency or when there is an immediate threat to health or wellbeing.
For more information about the scheme and how to apply for help go to http://wales.gov.uk/topics/housingandcommunity/regeneration/debt/discretionary-assistance-fund/?lang=en
Where can I get more help or information?
This factsheet is a basic overview of Local Welfare Provision. You should contact your local authority to find out about the scheme which operates in your area.
You can get help and information at your local advice centre, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau. You can get more information about where to get personal advice from our Factsheet F15 - Getting advice.
All our factsheets are free to download on our website at www.disabilityrightsuk.org. All our other publications are available from our shop at www.radar-shop.org.uk/. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK on 020 7250 3222 (this is not an advice line) or by fax on 020 7247 8765.
19 June 2013