Welfare payments that are 'lifelines' for people being ‘hacked away’, MPs warn

New figures show more than £300m axed fromfundsthat serve as 'safety net' forpoor claimants.

Welfare payments that serve as a “lifeline” for some people in the UK have been slashed in recent years, figures show, prompting MPs to warn that a financial safety net is being “hacked away”.

New statistics show more than £300mhas been axed from the discretionary social fund and flexible support fund, which can be awarded to poor claimants for a wide range of issues - writes independent.co.uk

Ministers have confirmed that £419.5mwill be made available through the discretionary social fund next year, compared with £679.7mgiven out in 2010-11 – a cut of 38 per cent.

The fund is made up of interest-free budgeting loans, which are available to claimants of certain benefits to help them cope with the purchase of major items or services, such as replacing a broken freezer.

It used to include “crisis loans”, which would cover payments associated with serious risks, but these were abolished in 2013.

Money awarded through the flexible support fund, which goes towards helping claimants back into work, has meanwhile fallen from £115min 2012-13 to £51m in 2016-17.

TheDepartment for Work and Pensions(DWP)said it spends around £90bn on working age welfare and the changes were part of wider welfare reform, claiming this is “restoring fairness to the system”.

But Labour MP Frank Field, a former welfare minister and now chairof the Work and PensionsCommittee, said: “Once, we had a universal safety net protecting everybody from destitution.

“Then we moved to discretionary payments which might prevent destitution. Now, that even more crucial safety net is being hacked away.”

Labour’s former shadow cabinet minister Lucy Powell, who uncovered figuresshowing that spending on the fund hadfallen every year since 2012-13, said: “Funding from the flexible support fund can be a lifeline to some people, making the difference between a job and remaining out of work.

“With many people still unemployed, entrenched worklessness in some areas, and higher costs for some groups to get back into the labour market, the fund is an important tool to break the cycle of joblessness and provide extra support to help people get a job and keep it.

“It’s worrying then that the total budget for the fund has more than halved in recent years.If ministers really want to shift the dial on unemployment, they’ll ensure that there is adequate support for all those who need it.”

While the scheme was given a large boost in its budget in 2014-15 in order to meet travel and childcare costs to facilitate additional support for claimants, the DWP has since said there was a lack of demand and that year the scheme underspent by £87.3magainst its budget.

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to providing support for people who need it and spend around £90bn a year on working-age welfare, an amount that will continue to rise.

“Changes to discretionary benefits are part of our wider welfare reform which is restoring fairness to the system, supporting those who can into work and helping those who can’t.”

Read more news of London on our site.

independent.co.uk
Welfarepayments lifelines
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
5 views in october
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
About 13 million adults in the UK live in areas where at least half of the local banks and building societies have closed, analysis by the BBC reveals. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show nearly 6,000 local branches have shut since 2010, a fall of a third. The consumer group Which? called the number of closures "alarming". Trade association UK Finance said closing a branch was a last resort when usage falls. Banks and building societ...
Society
A ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward by eight years to 2032, MPs have said. The government's current plans to ensure all new cars are "effectively zero emission" by 2040 were "vague and unambitious", a report by Parliament's business select committee said. It also criticised cuts to subsidies and the lack of charging points. The government said it aimed to make the UK "the best place in the world" to own an electric vehicl...
Society
London area home sales fell 15.9 per cent in September from August because of a shortage of homes to sell, and that shortage of inventory helped push up prices by 20 per cent from a year ago, the head of the London St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) said. In September, LSTAR reported 776 homes changed hands in London and St. Thomas, compared to a near-record August, when 923 homes were sold. By the numbers Homes sold in September: 776 (a drop of 6....
Society
Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, jailed for inviting support for the Islamic State group, has been released. The cleric was sentenced in 2016 to five-and-a-half years in prison. He led an extremist network linked to violent jihadists, including one of the killers of soldier Lee Rigby in 2013. Choudary, 51, has now served half of his sentence and will complete the rest under strict supervision. Police are preparing up to 25 measures to control him, the BBC...
Society
One of London's front-running mayoral candidates has already put 40 per cent more of his own money into his campaign than the $25,000 limit allowed by law, a move that could put him in jeopardy if he wins the top job, provincial and civic election officials say. One of London’s front-running mayoral candidates has already put 40 per cent more of his own money into his campaign than the $25,000 limit allowed by law, a move that could put him in jeopardy if...
Society
Nearly 150 County of Lambton paramedics are no longer responding to non-emergency calls amid ongoing negotiations for a new contract. Job action as of last Saturday means Lambton County paramedics won’t be doing non-urgent transfers between hospitals for the next while, or keeping ambulance stations as neat and tidy, a union spokesperson says. Nearly 150 Lambton Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics represented by SEIU Healthcare Local 1 stopped resp...
Society
Clapham Junction has been named London’s worst mainline train station for disruption in a survey by leading consumer title Which? Fifty-seven per cent of trains have been late or cancelled at the south London interchange since the beginning of the year, their research found. Their study found King’s Cross was the second worst, with 51 per cent of trains delayed or cancelled, followed by Victoria (47 per cent), Stratford (44 per cent) and London Bridge (44...
Society
Tube drivers on the Piccadilly Line are set to hold fresh 24-hour strike action in a row over staffing and working conditions. The RMT Union has urged members to walk out at 12:00 BST on 7 November until noon the following day - writes bbc.com The union's general secretary Mick Cash said it had become "frustrated" with Tube bosses' handling of a "full raft of issues". Transport for London (TfL) said it was "disappointed" with the new strike. Drivers on the...
Society
The Tate and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are calling for a premium to fund arts classes in England's schools. The major arts institutions say league tables and pressures on time and budgets are squeezing out important creative subjects - writes bbc.com Six thousand 11 to 18-year-olds have described how the subjects help build their confidence, in new research. The government says it is investing almost £500m in arts and music. Creative subjects hav...