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Herefordshire Council In National Press: Welfare Assistance


gdj
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This time it is the council, not the hospital.

 

Front page story in the printed copy of the Guardian, today, Easter Monday, and in this link to the on line version.  

 

The story is about large sums provided by central government to councils to help those in dire straits due to welfare changes or problems.  I think Tony Johnson's view is that they aren't all that poor and he should be able to use the money for other things.

 

Conservative-run Herefordshire had county council spent less than £5,000 of its annual £377,000 allocation by the end of December last year, equivalent to 1% of its local welfare budget.It said its spending reflected low demand for crisis help, a claim disputed by Hereford Citizens Advice and Hereford food bank, which said they had been inundated with requests.

 

They will, of course, claim they are prioritising safeguarding the vulnerable and the money is better used for that - a claim which is being used again and again to cover up incompetence elsewhere.  And a claim that is not borne out by some of their actions.

 

So,  what happened to the rest of the money?   Was there any member questioning or scrutiny of any decision to divert the money elsewhere?  What data was used to justify it?

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I'd guess that Dippy's well known expression, Council Maths, will at some stage be deployed to explain that whilst the money is still there, though the accounts may show it ain't no longer there, wherever it is and whatever they have or haven't done with it, it'll be a tale of vast savings and huge benefits to the poorer folk within our society.

You can be sure of one single thing. They'll have held countless meetings, created a number of stearing groups, they'll be armed with a lovely graph that shows whatever they've set out to do is highlighted by a lovely red spike that soars off the chart leaving everyone to mutter, 'we'll that has sorted that little worry out'.

Course, its all a game of funding the bureaucratic beast of burden our Herefordshire Council and little of that money will hit the ground and find its way into the mouths that it was intended for. My guess is, it'll have been pointed here, there, and everywhere only to be devoured by some rich suits who've done a Course that entitles them all to exclaim, 'we feel your pain, we're on your side and if ever you do consider devouring your mates leftovers because you are starved of food and hope, they'll have a lovely leaflet that enables you to claim some of this money that ain't to be found anytime soon because of Dippy's Council Maths.

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I do believe most strongly that this Council rely on National and Local Charities to help the less fortunate in this County rather than dipping into their own purse to help the homeless and the hungary. I could go on but best leave it at that.

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Conservative-run Herefordshire had county council spent less than £5,000 of its annual £377,000 allocation by the end of December last year, equivalent to 1% of its local welfare budget.It said its spending reflected low demand for crisis help, a claim disputed by Hereford Citizens Advice and Hereford food bank, which said they had been inundated with requests.

 

 

 

Holy ****!

 

So, how many councillors on here are going to ignore the question:

 

"What happened to the unspent money?"

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Guest smartieno1

Here's some info from my FOI request:
 

Mr Phillip Smart

 

Email: smartieno1@googlemail.com

Your Ref:

Our Ref:

Please ask for:

Direct Line / Extension:

Fax:

E-mail:

 

CJ/AS/FOI IAT 6393

Claire Jacobs

01432 260 340

 

accesstoinformation@herefordshire.gov.uk

31st January 2014

 

Dear Sir,

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST FOI IAT 6393

Further to previous correspondence, your request for information has now been considered, and the council’s response is set out below:

Q1 Can you please supply me with all policies and procedures that govern the setting up of the Local Welfare Provision Scheme and the procedure for applying for and the decision making of, ‘Exceptional Circumstances Award’ (ECA) and Community Care Award (CCA)’

 

A.   Please see document attached.

 

Q2 Can you also confirm if Herefordshire Council are allowed to divert funds intended for ECA and CCA applications and use it to plug a hole in the finances of Herefordshire Social Services?

 

A.   The total funds transferred from the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) for 2013/14 have been allocated to a separate Local Welfare Provision Budget. The administration of this budget sits within the responsibility of the Adult Well-Being Directorate, which includes Adult Social Care.

 

The funding transfer settlement letter from the DWP states, “As you are aware, the Government has decided that it would not be appropriate to place a new duty on local authorities / devolved administrations in respect of the new provision you are planning. You need to be able to flex the provision in a way that is suitable and appropriate to meet the needs of your local communities.

 

However, whilst we do not want or expect you to replicate the current scheme in either whole or part, it is incumbent upon me to say that it is the intention of the Government that the funding is to be used to provide the new provision. Whilst the Government recognises the difficulties relating to the boundary between providing financial support and social services, we expect the funding to be concentrated on those facing greatest difficulty in managing their income, and to enable a more flexible response to unavoidable need, perhaps through a mix of cash or goods and aligning with the wider range of local support local authorities / devolved administrations already offer. In short, the funding is to allow you to give flexible help to those in genuine need. I would add that spending decisions are, and will continue to be, a matter for local authorities and the Government does not intend to start placing restrictions on any future decisions they may make on fundingâ€.

 

Q3 Can you please supply me with the name of the manager and director responsible for overseeing the Local Welfare Provision Scheme and can you confirm who have permission for the funds to be diverted to Herefordshire Social Services?

 

A.   Susie Binns – Manager

Helen Coombes – Director (Adult Well-Being)

 

I am advised that funds have not been diverted; the council has taken the view that the needs of those facing exceptional hardship can best be met through the attached LWP scheme. The council is reviewing how effective these arrangements are, including assessment of any unforeseen impacts, over the course of the first year of operation and the results of this review will inform any further development of support in this area.

 

No decision has been taken to divert funds from the Local Welfare Provision Scheme to social services.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request or you would like a review of the response provided, please contact me on the contact details given at the top of this letter.

 

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

 

Telephone: 01625 545 745            www.ico.org.uk

Yours faithfully
 

 

claire jacobs

INFORMATION ACCESS OFFICER

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Hi GDJ, I'm pretty sure this money is used for crisis loans - the bean counters will argue that as the money is a loan, and therefore repaid, in essence, the pot of money should not run dry!

However,it's a bit more complex than that....naturally!!

If this is the same money, we did have a discussion about it on December 23rd. The thread is on page 4 of Open Forum, I believe its called Government Grants to Councils to Fund The Needy. It was started by Silent Bull.

Sorry, I can't provide a handy link!!

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Dippy  thanks

 

I thought the story was familiar.  It was in the guardian today with the gist of it being that the money was intended for grants and nationally only half was given to the needy.  Herefordshire was mentioned specifically as such a small proportion had been spent here.  I assume the sum from the government was calculated from knowing the welfare/benefits situation here.  It seems odd that if the money is used for loans the council says it isn't used because there is no demand for it. 
 

Do councils normally have a pot for crisis loans and they are using this extra money instead?

 

It would be interesting to see how amounts lent compare with the 377000 pounds.

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I agree, it would be very interesting!

 

As with most things, the criteria folks have to meet tor accessing crisis loans have changed. It's not a straightforward process, and having an assessment by no means guarantees that you will be eligible.

In other words.....the goalposts have been moved.

 

I would say there is a great need in Hereford....but obviously the powers that be would not be in agreement with this.

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Hi GDJ, I'm pretty sure this money is used for crisis loans - the bean counters will argue that as the money is a loan, and therefore repaid, in essence, the pot of money should not run dry!

However,it's a bit more complex than that....naturally!!

If this is the same money, we did have a discussion about it on December 23rd. The thread is on page 4 of Open Forum, I believe its called Government Grants to Councils to Fund The Needy. It was started by Silent Bull.

Sorry, I can't provide a handy link!!

 

Here it is.

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Q3 Can you please supply me with the name of the manager and director responsible for overseeing the Local Welfare Provision Scheme and can you confirm who have permission for the funds to be diverted to Herefordshire Social Services?

 

A.   Susie Binns – Manager

Helen Coombes – Director (Adult Well-Being)

 

I am advised that funds have not been diverted; the council has taken the view that the needs of those facing exceptional hardship can best be met through the attached LWP scheme. The council is reviewing how effective these arrangements are, including assessment of any unforeseen impacts, over the course of the first year of operation and the results of this review will inform any further development of support in this area.

 

No decision has been taken to divert funds from the Local Welfare Provision Scheme to social services.

 

 

 

Thanks Smartieno.1  I might have anticipated that you would have been on the case!

 

Now would this be the very same Helen Coombes who, back in December found the equivalent of £950 per day to fund a couple of suits to help her to do her job?  

 

So in one week, our Helen would hand out more to the two lucky consultants than she managed to distribute to all the folk in financial crisis in 9 months.

 

I remember Cllr Vaughan Powell trying to get answers at the time and neither the CE or cabinet member was prepared to justify the cost of the two consultants - I wonder if they were ever recruited.

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Well done Smartieno.1 sterling work it just shows how the corrupt government and councils work hand in hand they create a problem wait for the reaction and offer a pack of lies as the solution and spend even more taxpayers money in doing so. The welfare team located in the Franklin Barnes building are at present overwhelmed with work and the council wants to reduce the manpower to save money and buy the way i have noticed that the new shopping complex on the old market has the same parking system as the hospital the longer you are there the more it costs that is what it looks like from a visual point of view it caught my eye when i was walking down to watch my beloved Hereford United on monday that is another story of corruption keyte has sold the club down the river.

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