Created by Portsmouth to replace some of the government welfare programmes, the scheme is for families or individuals on a low income that are facing a one-off crisis. The city has limited funds and the financial aid will priotise people that are otherwise living independently but need one time help for food or other basic expenses.
The Local Welfare Assistance Scheme in Portsmouth is a cash limited programme, and the city will often arrange for a voucher to be provided directly with the resident’s supplier. In some other cases, the council will refer the applicant to a not-for-profit Credit Union for a low interest rate loan. The council also partners with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for people that are waiting on benefits, or they will refer individuals to other local charities.
Food vouchers are provided by the Portsmouth local welfare assistance scheme. A voucher will be issued, and the person can use it for an emergency parcel at a local not-for-profit food bank. The client will be given up to three days’ worth of items, per household member, and the parcel will help keep the family fed. There may be groceries, pudding, meals, and other items offered.
White goods, cookers for meal preparation, and similar household items are often provided by the scheme. Vouchers are used for these, and people can use them in stores in Homebase, Argos, Euronics, and other Hampshire locations. Clothing may be provided for people seeking employment and in other cases too.
Only in a crisis, such as people resettling into the community from an exception situations, may housing payments or rent deposits be provided. This will be for those families that are resettling into a new, more affordable home in Hampshire County or the city of Portsmouth. The council will work with a landlord of a private home and arrange for the deposit to be paid if it will result in the individual entering into a new tenancy agreement. For those that need help with rent arrears as maybe they are facing homelessness, then they should apply for the Discretionary Housing Payment, or also find other housing and rent payment services.
Other uses of the Portsmouth funds can be for fuel bills, lodgings accommodation or pre-paid cards, travel to a funeral, and similar emergency bills. While a rent deposit can be offered so a family does not go into a home, this is low priority, and most of those applications are fulfilled by loans from the Portsmouth credit Union.
When seeking help, people should apply to other charities too, such as rent deposit schemes from their district council or charities, or they should try to obtain a referral to a food bank. Also, free money advice services are also available, and residents should drop in at those centres too. So the welfare scheme is a last resort.
Most of the aid is for people on certain benefits, including income-related employment, job seekers allowance, pension credit, support allowance, Universal Credit, or housing benefit. Funds are also to try to keep families in their home rather than go into care or help them resettle. Other priority is on domestic violence victims, the disabled, or single parents with children.
For those applying for the welfare scheme, applications are usually processed within 10 days, however all funds are limited and approval is at the discretion of the council. There are no guarantees that assistance will be provided, and people need to meet many criteria, as noted below.
For more information, call 023 9382 0002 to speak to an officer from the council office. More information is provided on the process.