Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Discretionary Welfare Payments being “Hacked Away” by Tory Attack on the Most Vulnerable.

with 16 comments


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Why Not Forget Benefit  Troubles During This Enticing Evening? 

The history of the discretionary social fund is one of those unglamourous topics few tackle unless they have to.

But essentially it replaced a system in which people in dire need – on benefits – could get money for emergencies, and essentials like bedding or clothing when they had no resources.

It is the ultimate safety net against absolute destitution.

In 2012 the system that was set up abolished the  “discretionary social fund”, already tilting towards ‘loans’ rather than grants.

This is the skinflint replacement.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 provides for the abolition of the discretionary social fund – ie, crisis loans, community care grants and budgeting loans.1 Crisis loans and community care grants are abolished from 1 April 2013. No applications can be made after that date but applications made before 1 April must be determined and can result in a payment after 1 April.2 Budgeting loans can still be applied for by claimants in receipt of income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment and support allowance until they are transferred onto universal credit (UC). Budgeting loans will also remain available to pension credit claimants for the time being.3 Claimants in receipt of UC will be eligible to apply for a ‘budgeting advance’ (see below).

In essence, there will be two main sources of provision in place of the social fund:

  • The first is ‘payments on account of benefit’ from the DWP. These are ‘short-term advances’ (loans) to benefit claimants in financial need waiting for an initial payment or an increase in their entitlement. Payments on account in the form of ‘budgeting advances’ will also be available to claimants in receipt of universal credit as a replacement for SF budgeting loans.
  • The second is local welfare provision provided by LAs and the devolved administrations.

Child Poverty Action Group.

This already tight-fisted system – one can imagine what “local provision” is like under professional haters of the poor, Tory local government – is now under threat.

It is no coincidence that Frank Field, a man, who for all his faults, has kept in touch with own past in the Child Poverty Action Group (Before his election in 1979 he ran the Child Poverty Action Group, and was director of the UK’s Low Pay Unit) takes a keen interest.


Care Appointments.

Discretionary welfare payments are being “hacked away”, a senior MP has claimed, after new figures showed more than £300 million has been axed from two major benefits funds.

Fresh analysis shows the scale of cutbacks to the discretionary social fund and flexible support fund, which can be awarded to poor claimants for a wide range of issues.

Ministers have confirmed that £419.5 million will be made available through the discretionary social fund next year, compared to £679.7 million given out in 2010/11.

Money awarded through the flexible support fund, meanwhile, has fallen from £115 million in 2012/13 to £51 million in 2016/17.

The Department for Work and Pensions says it spends around £90 billion on working age welfare and the changes were part of wider welfare reform “which is restoring fairness to the system”.

Labour MP Frank Field, a former welfare minister and now chairman of the Work and Pensions select committee, 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.”

The discretionary social fund is made up of interest-free loans.

Budgeting loans are available to claimants of certain benefits to help them cope with the purchase of major items or services, such as paying to get fuel reconnected or replacing a broken freezer.

In real terms, the amount awarded for budgeting loans fell from £495 million in 2010/11 to £411.5 million in 2016/17, according to figures released to Parliament.

Crisis loans, to cover payments associated with serious risks, were also part of the discretionary fund but were abolished in 2013.

The discretionary social fund has now been devolved to local authorities, which DWP says has allowed greater choice over how money is used to meet the needs of local people.

The flexible support fund is a separate pot of money designed to give Jobcentre advisers greater flexibility to award money to help claimants back into work.

Examples include travel expenses, training courses and clothing for interviews.

Figures uncovered by Labour former shadow cabinet minister Lucy Powell show spending on the fund has fallen every year since 2012/13.

The scheme was given a huge boost in its budget in 2014/15 in order to meet travel and childcare costs to facilitate additional support for claimants.

However, DWP says there was a lack of demand and that year the scheme underspent by £87.3 million against its budget.

“Funding from the flexible support fund can be a lifeline to some people, making the difference between a job and remaining out of work,” said Ms Powell.

“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.”

A DWP spokeswoman said: “We’re committed to providing support for people who need it and spend around £90 billion 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.


Written by Andrew Coates

April 4, 2018 at 3:07 pm

16 Responses

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  1. The Homelessness Reduction Act comes into force and MPs are concerned about cuts to welfare funds.

    there is “very little consistency” in the way councils allocate DHP.



    April 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

  2. Disabled man’s warning to others as his council tax bill DOUBLES

    The man feels that other people will be put in a tough financial position because of the increased tax he has to pay to North East Lincolnshire Council



    April 4, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    • Surely he can afford an extra £2.97 a week – the price of a box of matches on FULL disability benefit! He must have at least £320 in his pocket. It is not like he is on £70 shekels a week JSA. He won’t miss £2.97!

      Putting the GRIM in GRIMsby

      April 4, 2018 at 4:09 pm

  3. Government confirms more job centre closures

    The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that smaller job centres will be merged into larger ones in an effort to ‘deliver good value for the taxpayer.’

    A number of job centres will also be moved onto local authority premises.



    April 4, 2018 at 3:59 pm

  4. Over 21,000 retail jobs losses this year in the worst quarter since financial crash

    Job losses in retail have hit an astounding 21,413 since the start of the year in the bleakest quarter for the industry since the financial crash.



    April 4, 2018 at 4:05 pm

  5. Marriage is legalised prostitution.

    Count Leo Tolstoy

    April 5, 2018 at 7:34 am

  6. If a man is right, he can’t be too radical; if he is wrong, he can’t be too conservative.

    — Josh Billings

    Josh Billings

    April 5, 2018 at 8:22 am

  7. Social security seems to be turning into loans rather than support. This is bad but what is worse is that instead of waiting until people are working (if unemployed) before asking for the money to be paid back, the money has to be paid back immediately, within a fixed time frame, out of benefits which makes poor people even poorer. Which may be the whole idea. One of the worst things that the Tories did was to allow councils to charge as much Council Tax, as they pleased, to people living on frozen benefits never designed or ever supposed to meet such costs: this robs people of hundreds of pounds a year which is supposed to purchase essentials like food, drink and clothing etc.

    Very cruel and cynical stuff really.



    April 5, 2018 at 8:32 am

  8. Ken There has been talk of merging jobcentres into local authority offices for ages. Here inipswich we expect it to happen soon, russell road where the council are is a long walk from the town especially if on esa or pip. plenty of COUNCIL cctv on route of course

    Mr Northolt

    April 5, 2018 at 9:14 am

  9. Too Many CCTV near council offices if jobcentre goes there. especially if you are on pip dla etc and have to walk as no buses

    Mr Northolt

    April 5, 2018 at 9:16 am

  10. Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.


    April 5, 2018 at 10:48 am

  11. A whistleblower says assessors have just 15 minutes to read claimants’ medical history before interviewing them

    assessors can have their reports “amended” by superiors – and if it happens too often, they are put on a performance review.



    April 5, 2018 at 11:20 am

  12. This is the obvious result:

    Andrew Coates

    April 5, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    • Crime climbing by the day.


      April 8, 2018 at 10:30 am

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