Pressure mounts on Treasure to retain emergency support schemes
North Devon MP Nick Harvey has urged the Treasury to maintain emergency funding for vulnerable families.
His comments came as he responded to a consultation on the Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) Fund – money paid to county councils, specifically earmarked for those families who need emergency help. Often victims of domestic abuse receive help from the fund, and the long-term unemployed.
Nick Harvey joins the Children’s Society, Devon County Council, the Local Government Association, and many other organisations, in arguing for the continuation of the fund.
Across the whole of England, the fund costs £347 million a year, while in Devon, councils have used just over £1m to assist 5,000 people. However, the fund is set to be discontinued next year, as part of a range of cost cutting measures. The Government has put out a consultation to ask for views on the changes, which closed on Friday, November 21.
Nick said: “Though this may show up as a short term saving in the accounts, I suspect it will end up costing the Government money in the future.
“Some 461 of my constituents have received assistance from this fund, and, with the county council telling me they will be unable to continue with the assistance scheme if it is cut, I fear for what these people would do in the future.
“The £347m spent across the country achieves an awful lot, and is a small figure compared to other welfare spending, amounting to just 0.4% of the State Pension. Cutting it would do little to reduce the deficit but would cause an awful lot of unnecessary hardship.
“I can’t speak for all councils, but I do know that councils in Devon have got very good value for money in their Local Welfare Assistance Schemes. I hope the Government will come to the same conclusion.”
(from a press release)