Support for East Sussex residents facing ‘serious hardship’ could be removed

Update on Wednesday, May 14, 2014: East Sussex county councillors voted unanimously yesterday to support a recommendation that a letter of protest be written about a Government decision to remove funding from the Local Welfare Assistance Fund.

Our original story: Crucial support for East Sussex residents facing “serious hardship” could be removed, according to the county council’s lead cabinet member for resources.

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Cllr David Elkin

Cllr David Elkin is urging council colleagues to ensure a letter is written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to express dismay at the Government’s decision to remove funding from the Local Welfare Assistance Fund from next financial year.

He says the fund provides “crucial support to people facing personal crises in their lives” and also provides a vital resource which enables vulnerable people to leave institutional care.

In a report to county councillors, who meet today, Cllr Elkin is recommending the Secretary of State to be told: “The council further recognises that it could now be put in the unenviable position of carrying through a reduction in the discretionary support to East Sussex residents facing serious hardship, or trying to maintain the current level of support in a climate of already serious budgetary pressures.”

Cllr Elkin wants the Secretary of State to reconsider removing funding that underpins the Discretionary East Sussex Support Scheme. He would like local partners to promote the demand and ask East Sussex MPs to support the call.

The Discretionary East Sussex Support Scheme, set up from April 2013, helps residents who face emergency situations or need help to live independently in the community.

No cash payments are made but goods and services are provided, including food, gas and electricity vouchers, baby items, essential furniture and white goods, clothing and emergency travel.

Through partnership working with borough and district councils help is also provided with rent in advance and rent deposits for people with no other options.

Partners include Citizens Advice Bureaux, borough and district councils, children’s centres, advice agencies, housing associations, Care for the Carers, food banks and furniture re-use charities.

The scheme works to ensure that the process of applying for and receiving the items is simple and responsive for residents facing difficult situations.

In the past year more than 1400 households were helped. The county council received £1,202,184 towards the scheme for 2013/14 and will receive £1,184,695 for 2014/15 but the Chancellor has said that money would not be allocated for 2015/16.

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