Government to reconsider scrapping £180m Social Welfare Grant fund, reports the Guardian

23 September 2014

The government has promised to reconsider its controversial decision to scrap a £180m-a-year welfare hardship fund used to provide emergency support for some of England’s poorest citizens.

The U-turn follows ministers’ unexpected announcement earlier this year that they would abolish local welfare assistance funding in April 2015, just two years after it was introduced as a replacement for the Social Fund.

Campaigners confirmed on Tuesday that government lawyers had signed a consent order agreeing to revisit its commitment to scrap local welfare funding rather than contest a judicial review of the decision.

A government spokesman said: “We must be very clear that this was never about abolishing support. This government is giving councils more control because they understand best their local area’s needs.

“This is in contrast to the old centralised grant system that was poorly targeted. Councils can now choose how best to support local welfare needs – because what is right for Croydon will not be for Cumbria.”

More than 150 English councils currently receive an annual grant to provide crisis support for residents in serious hardship, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, disabled people and families suffering poor health or financial crisis as a result of flooding or natural disasters.

The government has promised to announce by December whether it will retain its funding.