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Council pledges to protect vulnerable after government cuts

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Council pledges to protect vulnerable after government cuts

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Finance, Housing

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Image: via Shutterstock

Kensington and Chelsea Council has pledged to protect emergency financial support for people in crisis next year, after the government cancelled the grant which funds it.

Previously paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), emergency support grants were delegated to local authorities in 2013.

However, the DWP has now indicated that it intends to withdraw the money which fund them. As a result, Kensington and Chelsea has decided to step in and meet the cost itself, estimated to be £435,000 in 2015/16.

In 2013/14, the borough’s emergency grants helped hundreds of people on benefits to move from B&Bs into unfurnished homes, flee domestic violence, repair or replace broken cookers and fridges or simply keep body and soul together following crime, flood or other misfortune.

Additionally, the council is intending to again bridge the gap between the government grant to pay council tax benefit and the full cost. The government grant covers only 90% of the cost of the benefit but rather than ask its poorest residents to find the remainder, the council will, for a third year, pay the difference at a cost of £1 million.

Councillor Warwick Lightfoot, cabinet member for finance and strategy, said: “It is plain that the public finances remain a serious constraint and that the government and local authorities are having to take very difficult decisions to ensure that they are sustainable in the future.

“But no one should believe it is easy for local government to absorb this cut. Our decision to use the Council's money to replace central government funding means that we have to make further progress in increasing our efficiency, getting better value for the money we spend and more efficient use of the property assets that we own. It is increased efficiency and economy that enables the Council to continue to help vulnerable people in practical ways.”

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