Furniture Re-use Network calls on the Coalition Government to overturn Vital Funding Decision
The Furniture Re-use Network (FRN) has recently launched an e-petition that if successful, will maintain a critical, financial safety net for families in crisis.
Backed by its 300+ charity and social enterprise members and other charitable bodies, such as THE LEEDS AND MOORTOWN FURNITURE STORE, FRN is calling upon Government to rethink its decision to scrap one of the remaining lifelines to vulnerable people and those living in crisis.
In April 2013, the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) created a two-year financial settlement of £347 million for local authorities to administer a local `hardship’ fund. DWP funding will end April next year, with all future decisions on funding resting with the Department of Communities and Local Government.
These local welfare assistance schemes exist to help people in crisis with vital, short-term expenses such as food or clothes; and help people in severe crisis to obtain basic living essentials such as beds and cooking equipment.
The ending of this funding stream in April 2015 is likely to lead to a sporadic provision of crisis help because some councils, which have no statutory duty to provide local welfare, might decide to close their schemes altogether.
“FRN is extremely concerned about the impact this will have upon people in need” says FRN spokeswoman, Helen Middleton. “Since April 2013, many of our members have experienced an increase in demand for essential goods from low income households, which they are struggling to meet. However, where a local authority has implemented a multi-agency approach, which includes furniture re-use charities, they have found that their allocated budget has been effectively and innovatively spent and successfully supported those who need it most”.
Ivan Western, Commissioning Manager Supported Housing at West Sussex County Council reiterates this view, “‘As a local authority, it’s important that we’re there for people in times of crisis. More than 6,000 households have received help in one way or another during the course of 2013/14. By working with third sector providers we’ve been able to make this money go a lot further than before. Our resources are better targeted and help is provided in a more timely and flexible way to meet the needs of individual families. Furniture re-use providers are a great example of this and their contribution is absolutely central to the success of the scheme’.
As Helen concluded, “Our major concern is that as State support retreats, low income households will increasingly turn to pay-day lenders and loan sharks in order to afford and access essential goods, thereby plunging them further into debt.”
The e-petition can be found at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/63001