Vouchers and goods are provided to the vulnerable and individuals in a financial emergency from the Discretionary Hardship Support Scheme. The city of Nottingham created this programme to replace the national Social Fund, and the aid will prioritize groceries and food to the needy, but other assistance is offered too. This is made possible as the aid is also combined with referrals to other charities in Nottingham and even loans from credit unions.
The scheme will give one off help to families facing a hardship, survivors of domestic violence, or families facing a crisis, such as a fire. The aim is to help ensure the resident can live independently and also reduce poverty in the city and county. Any help provided, whether a voucher or some form of grant, is at the discretion of the Nottingham City Council, and there are no guarantees to receiving help.
There are many eligibility criteria, and first is the applicant needs to be vulnerable and low income, with proof of savings, income, and other support needed. Many people seeking help have had a reduction in their benefits, such as Job Seekers Allowance or a Working Tax Credit, and they need support in the meantime. Since government funds are limited, the council will prioritise households with a senior member, child, DV victim, or a person with a physical disability.
Any aid is also provided at most twice every twelve months, but the Local Discretionary Hardship Support Scheme may provide help to someone that has never applied in the past over a person that has applied multiple times. Also, any grants, help, food, vouchers, or support from the council is a last resort, and other charities in Nottingham need to have been asked for assistance before seeking help from this local welfare scheme.
The Hardship scheme will only provide aid for certain emergency needs. The aim is to ensure the family is safe and healthy, and that the crisis has been addressed or put off. For people that are found to be eligible, the council will offer a pre-paid card for the following living expenses. Since the council can provide this, it can free up a family’s income to pay for other bills or maybe even their rent.
- Food is provided by the council, and this will include groceries, milk, nappies, fruits, and more, such as items for babies.
- Clothing is provided, including for women fleeing domestic violence.
- The Nottingham council also helps with employment needs, so there may be pre-paid bus tickets to get to a job.
- While more limited, the council can refer some people to the Credit union for low interest loans if more help is needed, but this is also a last resort. The money can also be used for expenses such as fuel bills or food.
The Nottingham City Council will also have assistance for the homeless or young people in the district as well as women fleeing DV. They will be provided a hot meal from a soup kitchen or food bank, and given furniture or clothing for their new accommodations. The Household Support scheme partners with social workers and hostels in the area to assist these individual with finding stability or housing.
Referrals may also help people that receive assistance from the Nottingham Hardship Support Scheme. There are authorized charities and agencies that the council relies on, and those people may get priority when it comes to aid. Local food banks also have more information on the voucher process, and they can offer advice or signposting to the emergency scheme.
A decision will be made by the council within 10 days or so. If the application is refused, then referrals will be offered to alternative options or schemes. The individual may also be put into contact with a social worker to help them apply for assistance from central government programmes or a local scheme from a charity. To apply, call (0115) 8765001, or applications be picked up at the council office on Station Street.