Delivering local welfare

In April 2013, the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) abolished the Crisis Loan and Community Care Grant elements of the Social Fund and transferred the funding previously used to support these to upper tier local authorities in England. This move followed a period in which Government’s expenditure on Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants had grown significantly. In an attempt to contain spending, DWP introduced a number of restrictions on eligibility and reduced the maximum level of award for Crisis Loans in 2012. However, it remained concerned that its system of cash
payments was open to abuse and was failing to meet the underlying needs of applicants, some of whom applied repeatedly to the scheme for help.

Although local authorities were not placed under any statutory obligations with regard to the use of the funds, DWP indicated that it expected them to use these to meet local priorities and provide help to those in greatest need. The intention was for local authorities to deliver a ‘flexible response to unavoidable need, perhaps through a mix of cash and goods and aligning with the wider range of local support local authorities already offer’.