Council, charity and disabled man team up to take government to court
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Central Government, Legal
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Islington Council, a disabled man in Cheshire and charity Child Poverty Action Group have teamed up to take High Court action against the government over its decision to withdraw vital support for vulnerable people.
The council is providing expert evidence in a judicial review of the decision by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to axe the Local Welfare Provision Fund, totalling £174 million nationally, from April 2015.
The council’s written testimony states that cutting the fund will have a "seriously damaging effect on its poorest residents, whom the fund is there to help".
Islington's £1.2m share of the fund goes into the borough's £3.1m resident support scheme, relied upon by thousands of Islington families in serious hardship.
Recipients of support from the Scheme include women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, care leavers, pensioners struggling to maintain their independence and people suffering from chronic physical and mental health problems.
Cllr Andy Hull, the council's executive member for finance, said: "The government are tearing away what little is left of the safety net, driving people to foodbanks and payday lenders, but getting them even to admit it is like pulling teeth. They say they’re not cutting the funding, yet they’re cutting the money. Beneath the doublespeak, this is yet another blow to the most vulnerable in our society who are already reeling from successive social security cuts.
"For the government to say the council should now somehow pick up the bill is disingenuous when they have cut a third off our budget over the past four years and look set to cut another third off it in the four years to come. The government is trying to transfer the risk and cost of its welfare reforms to local authorities.
"Any civilised government would recognise that this fund is a lifeline, not a luxury. All the money we have spent from the fund has supported those in real need – keeping families together, sustaining tenancies and helping residents on the breadline to survive. So, here in Islington we are making a stand on behalf of the tens of thousands of people across the country who badly need this support."
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