The Tory-led coalition government has agreed to reconsider scrapping Local Welfare Provision (LWP) funding following a successful legal challenge at the High Court in London, it has been reported today.
A disabled man from Cheshire, backed by his local authority and a coalition of campaigners and charities, challenged the government’s decision to withdraw the £174 million funding – used by councils to assist poor and vulnerable people in financial crisis.
The funding is used to provide emergency financial aid to replace household goods, including cookers, fridges and beds, or help poverty-stricken families in crisis.
LWP also helps local authorities fund courses to help unemployed people into work, or provide debt advice and other training to help those people escape poverty.
The council argued that cutting the funding could adversely affect their ability to financially assist vulnerable people in their hour of need. This includes victims of domestic violence, homeless people, pensioners and people with physical and mental health issues.
It was also argued that the government had taken the decision to cut the funding without carrying out an equality impact assessment or a proper public consultation.
They also argued that the government hadn’t waited for the outcome of their own review into LWP before taking the decision to axe the programme.
Rather than continuing to defend the abolition of the fund at a judicial review, the government conceded and signed a ‘consent order’, agreeing to reconsider the decision. The government has agreed to announce their new decision on the future of LWP, or its replacement, by the end of the year (2014).
Cllr Andy Hull, the council’s executive member for finance, told 24Dash:
“We made this stand on behalf of tens of thousands of people in need of support up and down the country because we believe that what remains of society’s safety net is worth fighting for.
“This fund is a lifeline, not a luxury, keeping families together, sustaining tenancies and helping residents on the breadline to survive.”
“The government decided to abolish this vital fund without properly considering the consequences. Now, it will be forced to complete a review of the fund, consult properly and consider the equalities implications of its new proposals.
“I sincerely hope this will mean that the fund does carry on, so we can continue to offer a helping hand to Islington residents when they need it most.”
“Abolishing the fund would disproportionately hit the most vulnerable in our society who are already reeling from successive social security cuts.
“The government seems determined to drive them to food banks and loan sharks. We are saying enough is enough.”
Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive, said:
“We welcome that the government has recognised the importance of local welfare assistance schemes and has committed to undertake a thorough review and consultation before deciding how the schemes will be funded in future.”