The Harrow Help Scheme may offer short term support, such as food or pre-paid cards, but more likely a family will be referred to the Advice Portal first. This entire programme was created by the council and the not-for-profit organisation Harrow Advising Together (HAT). The aim of the relief scheme is to provide both emergency aid for paying bills during the crisis and long term support in the form of advice.
This programme was created by the Harrow Council to serve as an alternative way to help the vulnerable in the district. It can serve as a safety net for people that are at risk from a health crisis or some other exceptional hardship.
The Advice Portal was is used to help people become financially independent. The aim is to get the resident of the borough off of formal support from the government as well as away from sources of borrowing such as payday loans. The council wants to end the dependency on long term welfare.
Many services are created as part of the Advice Portal. The system was created by the council and partners such as Harrow Advising Together, and all of these organisations partner together to help the low income.
What a person may find from the portal is information on job training. There are also workshops arranged by Citizens Advice that address budgeting and saving income for future expenses. Tenants can also use the Advice Portal to learn how to sustain their tenancy agreement if they are renting a home.
When it comes to financial relief, people can also apply to benefits from the site or learn about additional welfare schemes they can be eligible for. Harrows residents can also find local debt counselling agencies for dealing with loans and unpaid bills such as credit card arrears. Other information on the portal will be offered too for accessing rent deposit schemes and homeless prevention.
The end of the process will be enough information so there is a single view of the customer and their financial condition. Based on this, the Harrow council will be able to better address the needs and not duplicate services offered by others in the borough.
Assistance from the Emergency Relief Scheme will be provided only after going through the Advice Portal. In addition to that the applicant needs to meet other eligibility conditions.
If found to be qualified and if funding allows, then emergency relief is offered in the form of vouchers or pre-paid cards. These will be used to pay for items such as furnishings for a home, white goods, food, or emergency travel. All of this is known as in-kind support.
Some of the bills need to be covered by pre-paid cards. This will often be for fuel costs. Other uses of the Emergency Relief cards will be for expenses such as food or clothing. The scheme will only pay for what the Harrow Council approved, and if the person tries to buy something else the transaction will be rejected. They will also not have access to additional welfare payments in the future.
Limits are in place as well from this welfare scheme. Some of them will be a maximum of 4 weeks of fuel costs are paid. If someone needs emergency travel, then the cheapest form of this needs to be used, and the council will verify this. Furniture and white goods are often provided by recycling centres in Harrow, and food may be provided by a voucher to a food bank. So there are limits to Emergency Relief.
The Harrow Council will normally have at most £100,000 to use as part of their Help Scheme. The funds do run out each year. While they try to assist as many people as possible, many will not be able to receive a voucher but will rather just need to use the Advice Portal.
The council will also assess each application. Welfare is only for those residents whose income is low enough for a means tested benefit. They also can’t have savings and need to be out of all other resources. Harrow residents can only receive help from Emergency Relief Scheme at most two times per year as well.
The council office is at the Civic Centre, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2DU. People can apply online or drop in at the office.