Thank you for contacting me about Local Welfare Assistance Schemes.
I agree that Local Welfare Assistance Schemes should help claimants in urgent need following an emergency or unforeseen event and who have no other source of help.
A Department for Work and Pension (DWP) 2014 review found that local authorities delivered support more effectively than the previous provision and that councils are best placed to decide how to target flexible help to support local welfare needs. While the DWP has no plans to change these arrangements, there are other welfare measures in place to help those who experience hardship.
For example, advances equal to 100 per cent of a claimants’ provisional UC award are available from the start of a claim. These are typically paid within 72 hours, ensuring households get vital support quickly.
Other measures include reducing the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from a UC award, with the period over which these recoveries are made being extended from 12 to 24 months in October 2021. Additionally, there has been a £1,000 increase in work allowances which has provided a £630 boost for households with children and for people with disabilities. UC claimants may also be able to access the Flexible Support Fund, which is a discretionary fund that provides non-repayable support to claimants in financial need to move into work. I am pleased that the DWP has also announced a £150 million investment in the Flexible Support Fund.
I will continue to follow this issue closely and support improvements when necessary.