The localisation of the social fund

This is a 20-minute video on YouTube of a presentation in July 2013 by Kate Bell of CPAG on the change from the social fund to local welfare assistance and short-term benefits advances.

Watch the recording on YouTube here.


The presentation in full is available via the link in the right hand column of this page and below are some notes written at the time in July 2013

  • The localisation of the social fund replacement scheme may present some options to support families affected by the welfare reform programme. Specifically, the ability to develop a ‘reactive’ scheme that provides additional support has been discussed as a key capacity.
  • A number of local authorities have been working with their local credit unions to deliver their replacement scheme, as this in part means that recipients will, by definition, have to have made contact with their local credit unions which potentially offers access to the facilities needed to save to avoid future financial crises. For example, Tameside Council delivers its scheme through a local credit union.
  • Alternatively, some local authorities have partnered with voluntary sector organisations either for delivery or to pool locally available grants. For example, Southwark Council is delivering its scheme through voluntary sector partners and Islington Council has partnered with a local grant giving charity to pool the resources available for its scheme.
Southwark’s social fund replacement scheme1

‘The voluntary sector will play a key role in the delivery of the scheme and we are grateful to Community Action Southwark and a number of voluntary sector organisations for their support in its genesis. Pecan, London Re-Use, the British Heart Foundation, the Family Fund, St Giles Trust and the London Mutual Credit Union will all be involved in the delivery of the scheme.

Our aim over time is to devolve the administration of the scheme further to the voluntary sector.





Food parcels

Pecan (Peckham High St)

Foodbank charitable organisation currently in expansion to three other sites with volunteer assistance

White goods – fridge,

freezers etc

Furniture – starter packs

Reconditioned white goods and furniture

London Re-use network (based in Islington looking for further development opportunities)

British Heart Foundation

Family Fund

Rent advance for those

leaving care or prison

Up front payment and

accommodation support for

those leaving care and ex-offenders

St Giles Trust

London Mutual Credit Union

Grants for replacement household items/reconnection charges for services/living expenses/clothing

Cash payment

London Mutual Credit Union

Islington’s social fund replacement scheme2

The Council will work in partnership with Cripplegate Foundation to integrate their grant making resources and experience into the scheme.

The Resident Support Scheme will bring together a number of different funding streams to try to ensure effective targeting of spend, reduce duplication of support and ensure that the appropriate funds are used. This will include elements of the Department for Work and Pensions’ Social Fund which are being devolved to local authorities in April 2013

The Resident Support Scheme will target those at risk rather than those simply in need. It will have universal eligibility criteria that will determine whether a resident qualifies for support.

The Resident Support Scheme will not replicate the existing Crisis Loan provision and will not provide loans. Crisis support will be provided in certain circumstances only to vulnerable or at risk residents who do not have sufficient funds to pay for fuel or food costs.

In order to respond to the expected high demand for support there will be referral-only access into the Resident Support Scheme. However, there will be a number of access points, including through the council’s Statutory Services, through ‘Trusted Partners’ and through identified referral agencies including other council services.

The council’s statutory services - Housing, Adult Social Services and Children’s Services and some key partner organisations such as Housing Associations will be able to recommend Islington residents for financial support from the Residents Support Scheme if they identify a need through their existing assessment processes. Each of the statutory services and partner organisations will be allocated a notional budget which they will manage and make recommendations of spend on behalf of service users.

The Council will also enable designated local referral organisations, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau to make applications on behalf of a resident. These organisations will not have notional budgets in order to prevent conflicts of interests with their role as advocates for individuals who ask for their assistance.

The Resident Support Scheme will be administered by a team based in the Council’s Financial Operations service. The team will verify and process recommendations and referrals, and make award decisions.

The Resident Support Scheme will use a number of payment methods including a payment card, payment direct to suppliers, payment direct to landlords/housing associations, reducing council tax liability, grocery vouchers and fuel payments.

The Resident Support Scheme will offer residents additional support that will attempt to improve their long-term circumstances and help build their financial resilience. There is an opportunity to link them to financial capability advice, the credit union, advice agencies, employment services, the Income Maximisation Team and other support services.