The Waltham Forest council can help the low income and vulnerable from the WFSF Social Fund. The council created this scheme to replace some of the government benefits, including from DWP, that have been reduced or eliminated. While the aim is to give some type of voucher or grant to the applicant, there are cases in which a loan is used in partnership with the Community Credit Union.
The aim of the scheme is to assist families facing a one time crisis, and applicants need to meet other criteria as well. The Waltham Forest Social Fund is also only for people with no other aid available to them from charities or other organisations, and priority will be for the disabled of families with children, among others.
Cash will not be provided from the scheme, but rather the applicant will be given a voucher or referrals. Or if the individual needs to access housing, then the landlord may be given a guarantee for the rent deposit on the new home or property being moved into. So the council will review all its options and provide help in the best way they see fit.
In some cases, the Waltham Forest Social Fund will help the resident with applying for a low interest loan from the Community Credit Union. In this case, the applicant needs to join the credit union and participate in budgeting or other workshops. The loans can used for a number of expenses, and these may include furniture, funeral bills, travel expenses, rent in advance, and other costs. Exact terms are made after funds are issued.
Loans are not issued by the Council. They only advise the credit union on whether someone can apply, and the applications and assessments will be done by others. Some of the terms include the person will need to agree to a repayment plan, and agree to any interest costs that are due. In any case, the expense will be much lower than using alternative borrowing, as the Credit Union is a not-for-profit and they keep their expenses low.
The council will help people with moving into, or resettling into a new home. There are different ways they do this, and it will include assisting with the rent in advance or a deposit that needs to be made. They will also provide vouchers for furniture or other essential household items. There are local community projects in Waltham and other districts in London which can assist with those items.
WFSF will also prioritize victims of domestic violence, whether women or children, and there will be bonds or help issued for accessing a new home in an institution. If a child is homeless, they are also given priority for assistance with deposits. Also, priority is for families at risk of or threatened by homelessness.
Other aid may be provided by the welfare scheme too, as funds allow. This may be help for fuel arrears and heating bills in the winter, if service will be shut off. Many seniors may become ill, or even pass away, if they get too cold, so the aim is to give them a warm room or home to live in.
Food assistance is in the form of vouchers and referrals to soup kitchens or food banks. There are centres at local churches as well as Trussell Trust locations, among other sites. In an emergency, a household may receive up to three days of groceries from a Waltham Forest centre.
The number of families facing hunger in Waltham Forest has been increasing. The government, partnering with charities and local churches, has been trying to address this growing problem. More people are stating they are struggling due to benefit changes, so the council is offering an increasing number of vouchers to local food banks and soup kitchens. There are several centres in the region, and read more emergency food banks.
The aim of the Waltham Forest Social Fund is to review applications within a few days, and they will provide a decision as soon as possible. Any aid offered, whether a voucher for food or other options, will be the minimum amount needed to resolve the crisis. The council will also offer referrals to other services that the resident can avail themselves of for long term support.
To apply, the London Borough of Waltham Forest and the Revenues and Benefits Service runs the scheme. The telephone number to ring is 020 8496 3000.