local authorities

  • Managing digital exclusion


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    With the roll out of universal credit being focused on people managing their own applications and accounts online, a number of local authorities were concerned about computer and internet access. Applying for universal credit, and in some cases the social fund, will require a relatively long, undisturbed session on the internet, and many authorities are looking at how to best provide this.

    In Birmingham, one service provider was attempting to map all the digital feeds across Birmingham, to ensure there was an adequate map of free Wi-Fi and computer services.

  • Managing food poverty


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    Among the local authorities we spoke to, there was a general perception that recent increases in financial stress would lead to food poverty in most local authority areas. Two key mechanisms to address this were discussed: food banks and the direct provision of meals.

  • Managing transport exclusion


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    The role of transport in shaping the experience of poverty for many families is also crucial, and can have knock on consequences for parental employment opportunities and children’s school outcomes. It is also an area that local authorities can have some influence over. For example, in Liverpool, the regional child poverty commission has been working closely with the local transport providers to address transport poverty.

  • Maximising income through take-up campaigns and the living wage


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    The living wage was discussed by a range of local authorities as one way to improve the incomes of working families. Many authorities have already become living wage employers, but some are also looking at writing it through their procurement procedures, and believed that the Social Value Act 2013 – which places an obligation on public bodies to consider the social value inherent in any procurement – provides them with incredible leverage to do so.

  • Responding to council tax localisation


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    The localisation of the council tax scheme, alongside a reduction in funding, will again mean that local authorities will have to make some difficult decisions about who they subsidise going forward.

  • Responding to increasing conditionality and sanctions


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    Alongside the reductions to payment, the welfare reform programme is introducing more conditionality which brings with it a higher risk of sanctions. Sanctions are a particular concern for local authorities, as the social fund hardship scheme has been localised, and councils may have to meet the needs of households experiencing hardship as a result of benefit sanctions.

  • Responding to the under-occupation penalty/bedroom tax


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    There were three key ways discussed to minimise the impact of the ‘bedroom tax’ on residents, namely; reclassifying properties that residents deemed to be under-occupying reside in; assisting these residents to move to smaller properties; or; subsidise the under-occupation penalty.

  • Tackling fuel poverty


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    Tackling fuel poverty was discussed as one way to maximise available family incomes. A number of options were discussed, including improving insulation and decreasing fuel costs.

  • The cost of child poverty locally


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    Many local authorities we spoke to were aware that poverty came with long-term costs, and that reducing child poverty could produce long-term economic savings. However, these costs were unarticulated and it was difficult for child poverty leads to convince councillors of the potential scope of the savings that could be made by addressing child poverty.

  • Guide to welfare reforms for local authority staff and their partners


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    A (long) plain language guide to welfare reforms for local authority staff and their partners

    A wide reaching programme of welfare reform is underway that will have a significant impact on child poverty levels across local authorities. The scope of the welfare reform programme is broad, and a number of reforms will affect a variety of family types, and for many households, these effects will be cumulative.