Megan Jarvie's blog

"The last backstop for the most vulnerable": what now for local welfare schemes?

Announcing the provisional local government finance settlement yesterday, Kris Hopkins made things sound just rosy for local welfare provision. A £129.6 million allocation for the successor schemes to the social fund next year? Happy Christmas, one and all.

Save our safety net

This blog first appeared on Liberal Democrat Voice.

Four children are left home alone for five days. Social services step in to move the kids out to live with their father. But there’s a problem: the council have found a flat for the newly formed family, but it is unfurnished. The dad lives on a low income and does not have the savings to buy five beds and mattresses, and all the other furniture that is needed.

The future of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes

This week, the government committed to making a fresh decision on how Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS) (also called Local Welfare Provision) will be funded in 2015/16. Their decision will be informed by a thorough examination of how schemes are functioning, and the needs of those that benefit from them - great news for the vulnerable people that rely on them in times of need.

The dark side of localism: when boroughs want to keep "council tax tourists" out

In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, residents of the London borough set themselves up as a separate state with predictably comic results. When Pimlico’s governing committee lifts post-war rationing, shoppers flood to the new dominion only to find themselves trapped when its borders are later closed. As the local policeman puts it to one hapless refugee, “You should never have travelled abroad without your passport, madam”.

A new poll tax?

If I lost my job tomorrow, one of the things that I would expect would be that while I was not earning, I would not be paying tax. However, in 26 out of 33 London boroughs this is not the case: I would still need to pay council tax.

Let's all have lunch!

People often lament how the world of politics has very little to do with the ordinary lives of real people. For some parents, at least, that’s about to change.

From September, all infant school children will be entitled to a free school meal. Across the country, children from all backgrounds will sit down together to a nutritious, healthy free lunch, fuelling concentration and learning.

Families on the brink: welfare reform in London

London’s housing crisis is well publicised and well discussed. We're used to reading about extortionate rents being charged for box properties or a generation that is likely to be priced out of buying.

But there is another side to this crisis which is getting discussed less. Our new report, Families on the Brink, shows a London becoming unaffordable for people on housing benefit, leaving families at risk of being forced out of their communities and London at risk of losing its social mix.

Shredding the safety net to our national safety net

The UK’s social security system has long recognised that benefit levels are not sufficient for claimants to build up savings and manage unexpected or one-off costs. However, from April 2015, there will be no source of funding for this.

Tackle child poverty by letting mums work

London is the child poverty capital of the UK, with more poor children living in London than in Wales and Scotland combined. These numbers are driven up by a jobs market that is not working for mothers.

Tackling the ‘two New Yorks’: what can London learn?

As Londoners start to consider who their next mayor could be, does the New York race give clues for the London campaign?