Limited funding is available from the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme for individuals on a low income as well as the vulnerable with a connection to the city. The council provides awards or vouchers to applicants to help pay bills or get the household items they need to address an emergency, and this was to replace the central government funded Social Fund. Assistance can be provided to people on a low income, the less fortunate and also families on the Universal Credit.
There are two main components to the scheme. The Home Needs Award is for people threatened with homelessness or that have resettled into a new, more affordable private accommodation. What is in higher demand from the city is the Urgent Need Award, which is also provided by the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme, and this will pay for food and other items that may be needed to make it through a hardship.
Both options are administered by the Benefits Service, and they will review each application based on merit. Funds are also provided to the family based on their need, their crisis, and the condition of the person seeking help, and the money is issued solely at the discretion of the city. As noted below, there are some people that will be prioritized, but even they will not guaranteed to receive any form of financial assistance.
Types of awards in Liverpool
When facing a crisis, this is when the Benefits Service will assess the situation for more information on the problem. If eligible, and if there are funds available from the government, an Urgent Need Award will be provided. This will offer one time financial aid for expenses such as fuel or food. There may be other help for needs such as clothing or even a discretionary housing payment for rent arrears. During the winter, the city will provide for heating appliances, including the repair of them if needed.
While many needs can be addressed, most of the money is for preventing homelessness, so the scheme help with rent or housing costs. The second use of the Citizens Support Scheme is for feeding families, and vouchers will be provided for local food banks too.
The award will be paid out in many ways. Most common will be a voucher, such as for a food bank in Liverpool. Other funds may be provided using a pre-paid card which needs to be paid directly to a landlord or utility company. In some cases, mostly due to limited funding, the Liverpool Citizens Support Scheme will issue a low interest rate loan in partnership with the Credit Union. If a voucher is issued, then they can be cashed at PayPoint shops anywhere in Liverpool or the county
Some people need help for their bills or expenses while they or waiting for their benefits to start, or maybe for the first cheque from a new job. The Urgent Need Award can also fill that gap, and the Liverpool Benefits Service can provide financial assistance for people that fall into this situation. However the client needs to have applied to other charities first and the Support Scheme will only help as a last resort.
Anyone who seeks help will receive other support to ensure they sustain their tenancy. The council will refer the client to CAB centres and other credit agencies for budgeting, debt advice, counselling and other services. There will not be funds paid for people with repeat applications.
The other option is the Liverpool Home Needs Award, and this is for individuals impacted by a disaster, such as a fire, or those people that were homeless and are now moving into a new home. In some cases the council will provide a loan for a housing payment, and this is an option for tenants receiving funds from the Universal Credit who are now threatened with evictions due to the changes to their welfare. If furniture is given out, then a local supplier will provide this.
One common request to the Benefits Specialist is for an award to pay the rent deposit on a new home, and the Citizens support scheme does not provide that. However there are other charities and council programmes that can help with that housing expense and that assist with the creation of a new tenancy, so locate schemes that provide assistance with rent deposits.
No matter which award in being applied to, priority is for people impacted by welfare reform, women that have fled domestic violence, the elderly, and single women with children. Both of the awards are for the most vulnerable too, and this will be people with a mental illness or physical disability or even ex-offenders. The applicant for a Home Needs Award also needs to be on a low income, over the age of 16, and on some type of income support. The decision on the award will take up to ten days.
To apply for the Support Scheme in Liverpool, call 0800 456 1523. A specialist from the Benefits Service can help answer questions and provide more information.