Local Welfare Assistance decision

The Government has announced that, following consultation, specific funding will NOT be available. In Parliament the Minister commented (these are he key points):

“This government is putting our public finances back on track. Local government – like every part of the public sector – has made a significant contribution to this. However, the job is not done … in the coming years, very substantial savings must be made in public spending.

Local authorities will continue to be able to offer local welfare assistance from within existing budgets, alongside a range of other services for 2015 to 2016 if they judge it a priority in their area. It would be helpful to many areas to see how much of their existing funding relates to this. So today I can confirm that we have separately identified an amount relating to local welfare provision in each upper-tier authority’s general grant, totalling £129.6 million nationally.

The government has always been clear councils should choose how best to support local welfare needs – because what is right for Croydon will not be for Cumbria. Therefore this allocation will not be ring-fenced and we will not be placing any new duties, expectations or monitoring requirements on its use.

There is no additional money in this … In devolving powers to local authorities and enabling them to make choices, local authorities need to be transparent and open about the choices they make … I challenge local people to make sure that those authorities make the right choice to protect those individuals in need.

Over the last year, councils have increased their reserves by £2.2 billion so they now stand at a total of £21.4 billion. Authorities should of course maintain a healthy cushion when balancing the books. However, local taxpayers would be right in asking whether such substantial reserves are necessary”.

Hbinfo suspects that DHP funding will go the samne way in time…..