Social fund – note from DWP to hbinfo

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  • #39922
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    I asked DWP for more information on this – their response:

    “There are a number of assumptions being made about the Social Fund reforms and I appreciate this opportunity to provide some clarity.

    I think the first assumption is that councils are expected to take on the Social Fund in a different guise. The Welfare Reform Bill abolishes Community Care grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses. The funding for them will be transferred to local authorities in England and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, to provide new local provision. There will be no new duty imposed upon local authorities or the devolved administrations to provide any new assistance. There is no expectation that local authorities should mirror the current scheme in whole or in part.

    Looking specifically at your question, I’m not sure who has suggested that Social Services should provide the local provision, although I appreciate the Government response to the call for evidence published in June did say, “Modern social security structures are no longer the right place to deliver what is essentially a social care package”.

    In response, I would say the following:

    “The Government agrees that delivery should be by teams that are able to make contact with the widest possible range of people who might need support.

    As the Government said in its response to the call for evidence on local support to replace community care grants and crisis loans for living expenses published in June 2011, there is no assumption that Social Services will deliver the new local tailored support. The Government expects local authorities to look at the range of support services provided in their local area and this need not be restricted to local authority provided services.

    The lack of interaction with other support services within the current Community Care Grant and Crisis Loan schemes is precisely one of the issues these reforms are trying to address.”

    I would be grateful if you could spread this message”.

    #113930
    Anonymous
    Guest

    Single-tier authorities will be able to provide a suitably joined up service, but in English shire counties it does not seem to be clear at the moment even which local authority will administer the cash: county or district?

    #113931
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    (edit; this doesn’t refer to your reply Peter) good use of english but perhaps misses the point and once again fundamentally misunderstands how LA’s work.

    The LA’s referred to by government are upper tier authorities specifically because it is those LA’s that have Social Services responsibility. This will not be devolved to disricts.

    What tends to happen in most LA’s is that the Chief Exec will give responsibility to one of their Directors and in most cases that will be either the Director for Social Services or where there is a Benefits Dept (because they are a unitary or met) they might pass to that director (which in some might be the same director).

    The Director will then in conjunction with members officers and possibly the public make decisions about delivery but will retain responsibility for commissioning. Whether they will actually provide anything and what they commision, provide directly etc will be decided by each LA.

    The reply is correct that there is no expectation that LA’s replicate the current system or create a “benefit”. The only reason for this is that to call it a benefit or try to control it in that way means that it cannot be devolved to Scotland and Wales. The same issue arises with localised Council tax support.

    In Summary – in England- someone in each upper tier LA will be responsible – it is likely to be the Director for Social Services (or equivalent)or Director with Benefits responsibility, a range of “services” will be commissioned using a number of providers: in house, lower tier authorities and voluntary sector organisations, alternatively no provisdion will be made at all and the money will be spent on winter gritting.

    Devolved administrations – no idea

    #113939
    John Boxall
    Participant

    One concern of course is that if Social Services get the job then the money could end up going to their own clients rather than meeting the needs of their non clients

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

    Wilkins Micawber, Ch12 David Copperfield

    #113950
    Lee Fearon
    Participant

    Might be a good idea fo DWP to inform LA Chief Execs. Just a thought, as I’m not sure how many of them read HBinfo. (Peter D, this is not a pop at you)!

    #113952
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    To be fair, I think this is “your” job i.e. benefit service policy people. I am not sure it is always for DWP to do this.

    I will send out a note on Monday to suggest this? Dont forget the £500 max cap is now back with LA’s….

    No offence taken Lee – we have a big enough membership lol

    #113953
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    To be fair, I think this is “your” job i.e. benefit service policy people. I am not sure it is always for DWP to do this.

    I will send out a note on Monday to suggest this? Dont forget the £500 max cap is now back with LA’s….

    No offence taken Lee – we have a big enough membership lol

    #113956
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    I attended an event on the 7th of September organised by DWP at Caxton House. Heard about it following a letter sent to Social Services departments. I suggested that DWP needed to write to all Benefit Managers using existing networks or circulars (no recollection that it has happened). I’m still of the view that there are a lot of folk out there blissfully ignorant that this is coming.

    If it helps we are thinking about putting DHP, Section 17 Childrens Act, CCG/CL replacement all under one roof. Only the latter 2 are upper tier functions the first isn’t and so that “synergy” here couldn’t be replicated elsewhere without more radical thinking.

    #113962
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Yes and I think that is my point Julian. The letters etc. are going to Social Services or being passed there. So that is why I suggest all HB sections may want to think about a report etc. Get those jobs …..

    #113980
    pamrichardson
    Participant

    If you are going to administer this in your benefit service, and anyone has any suggestions on what they are going to do, would they mind sharing it as my minds a blank on this one for the moment! I will also canvas the neighbours and share anything we come up with.

    #113982
    RobBox
    Participant

    Luckily, I run a huge benefit service, with limitless resources just sittng, waiting to grasp the nettle and get on with all the half formed, ill conceived ideas that are, very slowly trickling out from the DWP / DCLG. Well actually I don’t. We operate a very lean structure, with managers having to cover numerous roles and responsibilities and I am struggling to see how we will take on this new role of not only implementing massive change, but designing it as well. I don’t have “Benefit Policy people”. J)

    #113988
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    [quote=RobBox]I don’t have “Benefit Policy people”.[/quote]

    So that is where you are going wrong then ….. 😉 :bigsmile:

    There is a lot of cash here (and jobs?) and I am afraid it is up to HB Services to make a bid for it. The Localism Act is going to mean that Government depts will be informing / telling LA’s a lot less what to do. I dont underestimate the work involved in doing all this. Ditto the Council Tax replacement – nothing to do with DWP anymore and I doubt DCLG will offer the same type of technical advice ….

    #113993
    pamrichardson
    Participant

    I dont necessarily agree that there is going to be a lot of money here….especially in my area…we’ve already been informed by DWP that they are cutting the amount set aside for the replacement by about a third at the very least – they want expenditure back to 2005 levels. No mention either yet of how much we will get to administer it but I bet its expected on a shoestring, so difficult to see how it will create loads of jobs either. And when the money runs out and we still have loads of claims for help…what then? All this will make it even more difficult to come up with any innovative schemes. So if and when it all goes wrong, it’ll be the bad old Local Authority at fault yet again. Oh and sorry,we dont have ‘benefit policy people’ either!!.

    #113996
    RobBox
    Participant

    Peter, I understand what you are saying, but in L/A land at the moment, members and senior officers are focused on making massive savings now, next year and the year after. If I were to put forward a wave of growth bids (if I could work out what to do) without some solid steer from central government direct to my CEO, I would not get past first base.

    I understand that a DWP rep attended a very recent CIPFA course and when asked a list of reasonable questions could only answer with “I can’t answer that at the moment” or “DHP will deal with that one”. It really is not good enough, the very fact that so many people have so many questions is an indictment of the current process.

    #113998
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    I dont doubt this is very challenging. My point is that HB Srvices need to press to take on this responsibility (and the budgets that come with it – even if not enough). There is too much thinking in LA land (to quote you) that HB is going so all the cuts can fall on HB Services. The trouble with that? Its not going to happen – there is a huge amount of work planned to go to LA’s. The big danger is that many staff will be let go and then when realisation dawns …..

    Mind you, I used to work with someone who got a big break when poll tax first came in (the rates manager all left for better pay) and he is now at Chief Exec level so I suppose change can offer opps too.

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