Emergency assistance is available in the Barnet borough from the Crisis Fund. Awards are provided at the discretion of the council based on a review of the application. The funds can be used to provide furniture for a new home, food, white goods, and much more. Other bills can also be paid using a voucher from the crisis fund, but the council will need to decide the conditions of the award.
This local discretionary scheme is only for the vulnerable. They also need to meet other eligibility criteria as well. The applicant needs to be on benefits or a low income. There is also a priority on the disadvantaged, such as women or children impacted by domestic violence or someone leaving institutional care.
Other applicants to the Barnet Crisis Fund are people threatened by a health or safety crisis. Examples may be families impacted by a disaster, or maybe an older person is out of heat for the winter. Children faced with hunger are also available to get free food from the fund. So the council will assess each application and determine what type of expense, if any, a payment can be issued for.
The crisis fund will only be awarded at most once every 6 months, as the the financial aid is for short term needs only. It provides the family time to address the cause of the financial hardship, and the team at the Barnet council can signpost the client to services for that.
Applicant need to be over the age of 16 and local to the Barnet borough. Also, the family must be on benefits, such as Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Guaranteed Pension Credit, Universal Credit or others. The council will verify this information using tax records and other sources of data. If someone completes the application fraudulently, the Barnet council will address this.
The award is issued as a grant and will normally be done using pre-paid card. So this is how the council ensures the fund is only used for paying the bills they approve. So for example, the council may authorize the card to be used for topping up meters for heating bills or maybe clothing at a local charity shop. Food banks across Barnet also partner with the council on offering access to groceries as part of the crisis fund.
In addition, the council will only provide grants for short term needs. If the family needs longer term support, then referrals will be given. The aim of the Barnet Crisis Fund is to address a short term emergency only. So this is not a never ending entitlement that residents in poverty can benefit from over the long term.
A key partner on addressing the long term support is Citizens Advice in Barnet. The team at the council can combine resources, such as issue an award from the Crisis Fund for basic needs such as food or clothing, and then signpost the client to CAB for advice. The customer service team at the council office, which has a post of Pershore, WR10 9BH, can provide information. The telephone number is 0208 359 4242, and applications can be done at the office or over the phone. Or residents can call the Barnet CAB office.