The local support scheme in Lewisham has three main components, and they include rent in advance payments, loans, and also grants for crisis situations. Each has their own eligibility criteria and the payments are aimed at addressing different emergencies, ranging from lack of food to homeless prevention.
No matter what form of assistance the resident is applying for, the applicant will need to meet criteria that are set by the council. This includes they need to be over the age of 18, local to the Lewisham, and on a low income or some type of exceptional hardship.
All forms of aid are paid out as a discretionary payment scheme created by the council as part of the welfare programme. All funds are limited and rely on central government allotments, and the funding can be stopped or reduced at any time. The aim of local support is to help people facing a crisis with their needs, and also sign post the client to a more permanent solution and ensure they get the long term support they need.
Types of support in Lewisham
Loans are used for short term assistance when a family or individual is facing a crisis. It is a form or more urgent relief, and the council will coordinate this type of financing with the claimant and local credit union. All money issued by the council will need to be repaid, but the interest rate will normally be lower than alternatives. Applicants will also need to be on benefits such as income-based job seeker’s allowance, pension credit, or income-related employment support, and they can’t be eligible for a DWP budgeting loan.
The uses of the emergency loans are extensive, but it will need to be agreed to up front. People should only use this when they are out of options, as while the rates are more affordable, interest will still be done from the borrower. The terms can change, but there may be an interest rate that is up to two per cent per month.
Some types of bills such as fuel or heating can be paid, but this will normally be done using a pre-paid card. In some cases, loans from the council can be used to buy food or groceries. Other uses of welfare include for acquiring household items, such as white goods or even furniture can be authorised to be paid by the Lewisham Council. Or housing payments, including rent, can be paid, but more information is below.
The council will need to authorise the funds from the Lewisham Plus Credit Union and state which bills that can be paid, and there are limits. Such as travel or medical costs will not be addressed by welfare, but the council can review this.
Housing needs are met by the Lewisham council rent in advance payments. This is for single people in the borough or those that are just having trouble in coming up with the cash for private-rented sector accommodation.
More information can be provided by the Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention (SHIP), however the financial aid tends to only be for residents that are discharged from care, however exceptions can be made.
SHIP, which can be called at 020 8314 7007, will not only help people apply for rent in advance help, but they will also offer free advice regarding a number of other housing situations. The aim is to help the family moving into a home, and also sustain the tenancy.
The last form of help from the local welfare scheme is support grants. This will provide the low income and vulnerable up to £1,000 to help them stay in or return to the community. So there can be funds for the elderly, people leaving care, or ill. There is also support for ex-offenders as well as the formerly homeless that need to resettle.
Lewisham’s Housing Options Team will process applications and make an assessment. This is at most one time per year aid, and the amount paid out from the council will vary based on the applicant’s income, savings, and other factors. If awarded a grant, the funds or vouchers can be used for all sorts of housing costs from furniture to rent deposits or food for when the person first moves in.
The customer service team can be called at 020 8314 6000. They have information on all the programmes available.