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Emergency grants and loans to vulnerable groups


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Changes to the Social Fund

As part of the Government's welfare reform, local authorities have taken over parts of the Social Fund and are now responsible for awarding emergency grants and loans to vulnerable groups. The Government has abolished the previous system of discretionary payments and replaced it with a new locally-based provision delivered by local authorities in England and devolved to the governments of Scotland and Wales.
On H&W radio today Herefordshire Council exposed of having given out only 1% of the grant money (total fund £300,000) to vunerable groups, with 6 out of 7 people asking for help turned down.
H&W radio are taking this up and Cllr Tony Johnson is to be interviewed this morning as to why this is, bearing in mind Newton Farm falls into one of the areas which would qualify due to poverty levels.
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Noticed the Herefordshire Council have issued this press release following last weeks exposure to awarding emergency grants and loans to vulnerable groups

Praise for programme to help families in difficulty

29 November 2013
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has praised the work of Herefordshire Council’s support for families programme at its half way stage.
New figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government showed that 18 months in to the three-year programme 278 families are being worked with in Herefordshire and over 101 have turned their lives around: with children back in school levels of youth crime and anti-social behaviour significantly reduced; and adults from some of the households now in work or on a path back to employment.
Jo Davidson, director for children’s wellbeing at Herefordshire Council said: “The   programme focuses on individuals and families in difficulty.  The multi-agency approach means that all participating agencies understand the support the family needs, not just what their individual service can do or what their particular role is. 
“We have already managed to help change the lives of 101 families in Herefordshire and identified a further 209 families to help over the next year.  We are proud to be amongst the highest claimants of reward funding in the country, a clear sign that our multi-agency approach, which has developed over a number of years and centres on the needs of children, is paying dividends.â€
One of the Herefordshire parents involved in Herefordshire’s support programme* said: “My house has changed dramatically for the better and it’s much calmer, more routine, better behaviour from all my children.  The way I deal with and approach things has been the biggest change - I’m not as irate and anxious as I was.  I talk to the children rather than shouting, and listen to them a lot more.â€
Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles said:
“I am delighted that across the country our programme is already helping half of our target of 120,000 troubled families at its midway stage and Herefordshire Council has turned around 101. These are families that have often had problems and created serious issues in their communities for generations. And these results show that these problems can be dealt with through a no nonsense and common sense approach, bringing down costs to the taxpayer at the same time.â€
Head of the national Troubled Families programme Louise Casey CB said:
“This programme is getting to grips with families who for too long have been have been allowed to be caught up in a cycle of despair. These results show that a tough, intensive but supportive approach has a big impact; giving hope and opportunity to the families and respite to the communities around them.â€


In December last year, all authorities were provided with figures on the indicative numbers of troubled families in their area. This figure represents the number of families that you are being asked to turn around. 
You may not succeed in turning around every family that you work with, and therefore it is likely you will need to work with more families than your indicative numbers. 
This document explains 
• the process for drawing up the list of families who will be part of the programme, the criteria drawn up by government and also how to employ your local intelligence on families with serious problems and high costs; 
• the criteria for identifying which of these families are eligible for additional funding from government through a payment-by-results scheme; and 
• what you would need to achieve with each family in order to claim the result-based payment. 
This document is not a delivery strategy. It does not cover good practice on interventions for families, or provide advice on drawing up your local business case for investment or redesigning of public services. We will have a role in helping to build up and share that kind of information among the network of Troubled Families co-ordinators, but are not attempting to do that here. 
Sounds like a modern version of a Social Domesday Book.
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It's a load of pigswill. Believe me, chaotic problem causing families, persistent and prolific offenders, restorative justice and the whole accompanying sack of drivel is all a huge and costly gimmick, designed to be mused over at a table within Plough Lane by the Partners. The Old Bill, the Council, Probation, Health and Social Services, all the key ingredients to produce a pile of urine that gets turned into a lovely graph celebrating how lives have been changed by this holy experience.

Good Lord, this Jo Davidson sounds like some fleet footed evangelical preacher screaming, 'Halleluzah. It's a frickin miracle. It was a problem. One hell of a problem but now theyre saved and its all down to the Council. Thank you Jesus. Thank you Lord.

And worse they have a testimonial. Good grief. It makes you want to spit phlegm. This poor soul, keen to get this manic preacher off her back, throws themselves before us and cries, 'I used to hit the kids with a mallet twice a day. Now I only do it once. Lordy I've been saved. I've seen the light and Im all the better for this encounter with the Director if anything I say is worth a jot of notice'.

It's awful. To think that it's come to this. To think that we've gotta open our mouths, swallow this tripe and say, 'lovely just what I needed to know. I feel a whole lot better now'.

Why do they do this? Because they can. None of them have a clue how to resolve the chaotic behaviour of some families, try as they might they can't stop the same people thieving and so they create a gimmick. A gimmick that takes on a life of its own where the graph will do whatever they want it to do and we are paying for it. And worse, they've now got poor and bewildered people giving them positive testimonials reporting to us how wonderful the whole journey has been. Ching! Ching! More suits. More meetings. More huge Salaries and the game goes on.

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  • 1 month later...

Government to stop funding for low-income families facing emergencies

extract from The Guardian today:


A £180m-a-year hardship fund providing emergency help for low-income families who suffer sudden financial crisis as a result of domestic violence, ill-health or natural disaster such as flooding is to be scrapped, it has emerged.
Technical documents released just before Christmas suggest the Department for Work and Pensions plans to cut its cash allocation to local authority welfare assistance schemes in 15 months' time.
Charities warned this would lead to a postcode lottery in local welfare help and trigger a rise in the number of people becoming dependent on loan sharks or charitable support, such as food banks.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of the Children's Society, said the removal of government funding for local crisis schemes was alarming. "This is yet another blow to what was once a critical safety net for families facing such unpredictable emergencies and disasters as flooding, or simply running out of money to buy food for their children or feed the electricity meter.
"We urgently need a clear commitment from government to provide local authorities with sustainable funding to support families facing an unexpected financial crisis. Without this, many more families will be forced to turn to food banks, or to use loan sharks or high-cost money lenders."


See post above.

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  • 4 months later...
Wednesday 28th May 2014 in Hereford Times News By Bill Tanner:

THE overall economic impact of welfare changes in Herefordshire is estimated to be a loss of  Â£43m annually.
New figures show that around 14,500 households in the county now live in poverty with the effect of welfare changes starting to be seen.
Food aid is emerging as a particularly priority.
A household is considered to be in poverty if its net income - after housing costs and taxes – is less than 60% of the national average.
The latest Understanding Herefordshire report – a basis for key decision making in the county over the next 12 months – reveals that, over 2013, minimum income requirements were estimated to be at least 10% higher for residents of villages than the population as a whole as ancillary costs like transport and heating rose faster than inflation.
The report directly links poverty in the county with the various changes to the welfare system with the economic impact already estimated at a loss of £43m annually – around 1% cent of total economic output.
There is now, the report says, an increase in need for  support locally, particularly as the use of sanctions and delays in benefit processing creates a demand for “crisis†support.
The criteria for the local welfare provisions scheme - introduced by Herefordshire Council in  April last year – offers limited support as the policy explicitly chooses to not bypass DWP sanctions or ‘top -up’ benefits when the DWP can provide benefit advances for those in need.
Those seeking support are frequently referred directly to food banks by social workers, housing associations, Citizens Advice Bureau and others with support provided without a wide ranging assessment of need.
Both Hereford City food bank and the Citizens Advice Bureau have seen an increase in demand for their services over the past year.
The number of food parcels given out by the Hereford City food bank in the first three months of 2014 was double the number given out in the same period of 2013 and around two fifths of these were reported as being related to benefit issues.
Herefordshire Council is currently reviewing the Local Welfare Scheme, in consultation with partner providers, and looking at food aid specifically.
Earlier this month, the Hereford Times revealed that Herefordshire Council was keeping just under £300k of welfare assistance unlabelled in its social care budget for the coming year.
The council says it wants the cash to help welfare initiatives rather than the crisis loans for which it was intended under the local welfare provision scheme.
Critics said the council spent less than £5k of its annual £377k allocation by the end of December last year – equivalent to 1% of its local welfare budget.



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