Desperate people turn to council for help

First published in News
Last updated
Evesham Journal: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

MORE than 1,300 desperate people have gone cap-in-hand to Worcester City Council to plead for items like food vouchers, furniture, microwaves and beds in the last year.

Your Worcester News can reveal how a new Government-funded £445,000 pot to help vulnerable people has been inundated with applications.

And rather than easing off, the numbers of people trying to get help from it have surged in recent months, flying in the face of the economic recovery.

One year ago the city council launched the Welfare Assistance Scheme, managing it for Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon.

The fund is worth nearly £900,000 in total and is designed to last for two years, running until April 2015.

It is a discretionary scheme, and offers help with basic day-to-day living for those deemed to be in genuine crisis.

Rather than cash it works around vouchers, which are handed out for food, white goods like washing machines and fridge freezers, and even energy bills.

Up to the end of February 1,371 people applied to it, with 1,287 applications approved.

In May last year just 80 people applied for it, but it has steadily increased since then and hit a record monthly high of 175 in January.

Of the 1,287 successful applicants 946 were from Worcester, compared to just 270 in Wychavon and 155 in Malvern.

The city council now says it expects the cash to be "fully spent" by the end of next year, and is desperate for it to be extended.

Prior to April 2013 crisis loans were issued via the Department for Work and Pensions, but the Government decided to ask councils to take on responsibility amid concerns the old system was not working very well.

The city's Labour leadership says it is alarmed by the findings, as the scheme is considered one of "last resort".

In Worcester 44 per cent of vouchers went towards household items, 31 per cent energy costs and 25 per cent on food.

Councillor Roger Berry, cabinet member for health and well-being said: "I was a social worker for most of my working life and I know how difficult crisis loans were to get.

"The city obviously inherited this scheme from the Government and the fact the money for year one is nearly all gone is a tribute to the staff.

"But the big question is what happens at the end of those two years, we've got to lobby our parliamentarians and I've already written to Robin Walker to ask that it continue."

Mr Walker said: "It's obviously an example of where a scheme has worked well and I'll be happy to take it up with Government."

Comments (4)

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11:53am Mon 7 Apr 14

Handcart says...

Mr Walker saying this is a scheme that has 'worked well' is like saying weren't we clever for throwing someone a lifebelt. You Tories are the ones pouring in the water, throwing people in and pushing your boot on the heads of the drowning. Grr!
Mr Walker saying this is a scheme that has 'worked well' is like saying weren't we clever for throwing someone a lifebelt. You Tories are the ones pouring in the water, throwing people in and pushing your boot on the heads of the drowning. Grr! Handcart
  • Score: 5

11:59am Mon 7 Apr 14

Jabbadad says...

Tough words but oh so true.
Tough words but oh so true. Jabbadad
  • Score: 2

1:34pm Tue 8 Apr 14

green49 says...

Its all gone quiet on the County council with the cuts and the so called backtrack on some of trhem? if they only told the truth, its only for about 6 months and then they are going to put in what was taken out? No call alarms, No wardens etc etc , A drastic cut in funding the homeless and community housing making it hit the vunerable AGAIN, lets get rid of these evil people who have no idea of what effects there decisions will have and even worse they dont care,.21st century and we have food banks? thats a great way to treat the citezens of this country who the politicians are supposed to represent,
Its all gone quiet on the County council with the cuts and the so called backtrack on some of trhem? if they only told the truth, its only for about 6 months and then they are going to put in what was taken out? No call alarms, No wardens etc etc , A drastic cut in funding the homeless and community housing making it hit the vunerable AGAIN, lets get rid of these evil people who have no idea of what effects there decisions will have and even worse they dont care,.21st century and we have food banks? thats a great way to treat the citezens of this country who the politicians are supposed to represent, green49
  • Score: 1

5:49pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Jabbadad says...

WE pensioners hold enough votes to make changes, and WE are the highest percentage of those who use their vote. WE need ALL OF US TO VOTE against these disgracefull CONservatives who are slashing the budgets for ESSENTIAL SERVICES.
As Green49 says, they will be reintroducing the cuts after the elections, And even if you are comfortable in your retirement PLEASE support those who are still pensioners but less fortunate. The actions of the CONservatives could be seen in many cases as quite inhumane. DON'T be associated with their actions.
WE pensioners hold enough votes to make changes, and WE are the highest percentage of those who use their vote. WE need ALL OF US TO VOTE against these disgracefull CONservatives who are slashing the budgets for ESSENTIAL SERVICES. As Green49 says, they will be reintroducing the cuts after the elections, And even if you are comfortable in your retirement PLEASE support those who are still pensioners but less fortunate. The actions of the CONservatives could be seen in many cases as quite inhumane. DON'T be associated with their actions. Jabbadad
  • Score: 0

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