Tag Archives: Department for Work and Pensions

Farewell to the safety net? Social (in)security and Local Welfare Assistance

Dr Chris Grover

Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) was introduced in April 2013. It is a general term for a range of policies that upper tier local authorities and the devolved governments of Scotland and Wales were given funding for by the Westminster government to relive the needs of people facing a financial emergency. It has recently been highlighted, however, that, at least in England, there have been problems in the development of LWA. Following a Freedom of Information request, The Guardian reported in April 2014 that: Councils sit on £67m in emergency help for poor. This finding was problematic because it suggested that people may be unable to access the support that they require at times of acute financial need. And this was at a time when, as the increase in the use of food banks and the increasing number of income poor people being pushed deeper into poverty by the Coalition government’s programme of social security retrenchment, it might have been thought that local authorities would be inundated by demand.

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The Benefit Cap: poverty, and continuity and change in social security policy

Dr Chris Grover

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced a benefit cap in Britain from April 2013. The cap applies only to working age people and means that, unless a household contains a disabled person (as defined by the receipt of particular disability benefits), it cannot receive from certain means-tested benefits more than £500 per week for households with dependent children and childless couple households, and £350 per week for single person households.

The benefit cap was introduced as an austerity measure by the Coalition government and was justified through a particular notion of ‘fairness’ that prioritises relativities between wage earners and benefit recipients, and which, therefore, suggests average wage levels should have at least some role in determining the level of benefits that people receive. In a recent press release the government announced that by November (2013) 33,000 households in Britain had seen their benefits capped. The Minister for Welfare, Lord Freud, noted that this represented ‘returning fairness to the system by ensuring that families on benefit can no longer get more money than the average family earns’.

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