The central government has provided grants to local authorities in an effort to help the most vulnerable members of the community. The councils used these funds to create welfare schemes, and the aim is to ensure that people facing a hardship or emergency have access to some form of short term financial assistance.
What is provided by each scheme listed below will vary. Some can provide for only more basic needs, such as food vouchers or clothing. Others will offer help with housing and offer rent payment assistance in an effort to prevent homelessness in their county. Many other types of bills can be paid at the discretion of the authorities, such as travel costs or fuel bills, however almost no two welfare programmes are alike. When applying for this form of assistance, individuals need to know the terms and details of each scheme will change by county and district.
There are many local solutions. The schemes were mostly created by each county in England, however the national government in Scotland and Wales run theirs. So the types of expenses paid for will vary, and each county or council may also call the welfare scheme by a different name, so that too will change.
Any type of assistance provided is at the discretion of the local council as well. So based on an application process in place that will require proof of income, hardship, savings, and more, the council will conduct an assessment. If the individual has been approved for a scheme, then assistance will be provided to them.
Types of assistance provided by welfare scheme
The specifics of each will vary based on funding levels and the rules set up by each authority. However, there will be some general guidelines that are usually followed. These include the funds will be used for short term needs only, and a focus is on the vulnerable that are threatened by a health or safety crisis.
Also, some counties will issue a loan that the applicant can use for paying for the household items they need or their bills, but more likely some type of voucher is issued instead of cash. Some of the common expenses paid by welfare schemes include the following.
- Food parcels or vouchers are issued in an emergency. This may provide families with anywhere from three to ten days of groceries to families.
- Transportation costs, and it will be for a medical or health care issue.
- Heating or utility bills. Welfare will often help older people and the vulnerable during the winter, and a pre-paid card will normally be issued.
- A grant can help with a connection cost to turn electricity back on.
- Homeless prevention. Some councils will use welfare to provide help for a portion of rent arrears, or maybe a deposit will be paid for individuals that are resettling, however this is not common.
- Basic housing needs such as clothing, furniture for a new home, beds, nappies, and similar household items.
- Signposting to agencies to address budging, job training, and life skills.
Other expenses can be paid as well using these government grants. The programmes are flexible in what they can provide households, but this is at the discretion of each agency. Each council will decide, based on the assessment and the applicant’s need, what bills and living expenses they will pay, so they are not limited to above.
Individuals that are facing some type of exceptional, one time crisis are some of the main beneficiaries of the welfare schemes. They tend to not help people that have repeated episodes of homelessness, or that have been living in poverty and have not done anything to help with independent living. Residents can contact their local council for more information on what may be provided.
It will be extensive, and this too will be different by county and authority. Some councils will even have other not-for-profit organisations in the area process the applications for welfare on their behalf. No one is guaranteed to be provided an award either, but those that are rejected will usually be signposted to other agencies. Individuals should be prepared for some of the following.
- Proof of income will be needed, and some of the welfare schemes will require the applicant to be on some form of benefit, such as Income Support or Housing.
- Since the funds are limited, assistance is limited to two or three times per year, and residents can’t continue to seek help from their council.
- Applicants will need to be age 16 or over.
- Help is provided as a last resort, and the applicant needs to have sought assistance from friends and family first, applied for charity aid, and other forms of financial assistance.
Many other conditions are in place as well. Based on the local council rules, and the results of the application process, while a voucher or grant may be provided for the crisis, some councils will issue a low interest rate loan and the individual will need to agree to a repayment plan on it. This source of funding will also be decided for each applicant. Older people and retirees can also apply for welfare, and as there government sponsored financial help for pensioners.
Local contact information for welfare
Most counties, or devolved administrations, operate an emergency welfare scheme. The names and funding levels will be different in each area or borough, but they can be a resource for low income families that are facing an emergency.