Kent families could find it harder to get crisis loans
Vulnerable people in Kent could be find it harder to get vital
crisis loans under plans for councils to take over the running of
schemes from the government.
Kent County Council is warning that as the recession continues
to bite, there may not be enough money to meet demand for help from
some of the most impoverished people in the county.
The authority is to take on responsibility for dealing with
applications for loans and grants that are currently provided by
the government through the Department of Work and Pensions.
But it is likely to have to do so with less money as the
government is paring back money under the Social Fund to the levels
According to KCC, loans and grants this year totalled £2.9m
while in 2005-06, £1.9m was spent - a £1m difference.
Money is offered on a discretionary basis to help with food,
fuel and travel expenses and to help pay for furniture or other
They are typically offered to those on benefits who have
short-term cash problems. Many are disabled, single parents or
A report outlining how KCC will run the scheme says the money
being allocated by central government may be inadequate. It also
says claimants will no longer get cash but vouchers."
It is of
particular concern the funding transferred will not be sufficient
to meet demand, particularly in view of the current uncertain
economic situation and the wider welfare reforms.
The funding is a fixed budget and there is a danger that it may
not last for the required period."
It goes on: "It is hoped that by restricting support to goods
and services the money is more likely to last for the required
KCC says it expects to get about £2.8m to fund the programme
next year. It is unclear what will be available in the long
Charities have expressed concern at the shake-up. A spokesman
for the Child Poverty Action Group said: "The government is placing
councils in a very difficult place because they have to provide for
the administration costs which are inevitable.
"The more difficult economic climate means that more people are
likely to have recourse to schemes like this."
According to KCC, 23,000 residents made claims for loans in
2011-12, of which 18,620 were granted. In addition, there were
9,010 applications for grants, of which 4,260 were granted.
On average, community care grants were about £400 while crisis
loans to cover living expenses are about £60. Most of these go to
those aged 18-24.
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