Cheshire East launches local welfare safety net

Cheshire East Council is launching a local welfare safety net to support residents facing financial hardship as a result of welfare reform.

Councillor Peter Groves, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for finance and assets, said: "The council is committed to building strong and supportive communities and encourages residents to be self-reliant and not dependent on welfare and public services.

"The council understands that this central reform may initially lead to difficult times for some of our residents, which is why we have endorsed a strategy that will positively impact on those who need our help most."

The strategy will focus on helping people to get into and stay in employment, enable access to affordable housing and develop self-reliance and financial responsibility.

The Council established the Emergency AssistanCE scheme, the purpose of which is to support vulnerable people facing immediate hardship, to prevent homelessness, and to keep families together. The scheme provides rent deposits, furniture and white goods (recycled where possible) and emergency food (through local food banks were possible). Unlike the former crisis loans and community care grants administered by the DWP, it does not provide cash.

Cheshire East received transitional funding of £612k in 2013-14 and 2014-15 for its local welfare provision through the Emergency AssistanCE scheme. In 2015-16 no specific grant for local welfare provision was received and the transitional funding of £612k was removed from the Council's budget. Given the uncertainty over future funding, the scheme under spent against its budget in the first two years and an earmarked reserve was created to provide funding for the scheme in 2015-16 and 2016-17. However, there is currently no budget or reserve to fund local welfare provision from April 2017.

The strategy, which was endorsed by the Cabinet at their meeting on Tuesday, 8th November, recommends that £300,000 is included within the Council's budget from April 2017 for local welfare net, reducing to £250,000 in 2018/19 and 2019/20. This budget will be used to fund the Emergency AssistanCE scheme and a range of intervention and prevention activities.

Cheshire East Council


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Saturday 12th November 2016 at 3:52 pm
So the bottom line is that Cheshire East knew that more money was needed but did not plan longterm for what is a worthwhile cause. Rather, there is this drip feed of deserving causes. Last year we were told that there was a "one off" need for Council Tax to rise to cover adult social care. We will now be told that there is a "one off need" to cover Welfare, which will include these proposals. A couple of years down the line then there will be another "one off need" for an increase to cover the increasing cost of education and so it goes on. All of this might be acceptable if, at the same time, Cheshire East was not also buying property to "increase its strategic portfolio".
Pete Taylor
Sunday 13th November 2016 at 9:39 am
Is it possible for a Council to be put into "special measures"?
Mark Goldsmith
Sunday 13th November 2016 at 5:09 pm
Isn't our benefit system supposed to be the safety net?

So why do we need a safety net for those who fall through the safety net?

Unfortunately, if a system doesn't work properly then government creates another system to compensate rather than fix the original fault. So double the bureaucracy and ultimately less going into the pockets of those who really need it most.
Alan Brough
Sunday 13th November 2016 at 8:35 pm
Why is it that when Cheshire East propose a new strategy, I am reminded of Baldrick's cunning and fiendish" plans?

That the Cabinet member responsible for Finance & Assets should state that.... ''The council is committed to building strong and supportive communities and encourages residents to be self-reliant and not dependent on welfare and public services'' at a time when his colleagues are proposing a four per cent increase in Council Tax seems to me to be more stupid than a stupid thing, newly qualified from The Kings College of Stupid!
Nick Jones
Monday 14th November 2016 at 2:26 pm
Careful Alan, Pete, Mark….. Such cynical comments about CEC’s continuing fiscal chicanery upsets some readers who are happy to be spoon fed such hog-swill and are disappointed that they now only have a meager 4% Tax rise to permit more of the same re-occurring [ Isn’t a cynic what an idealist calls a realist ??]