Government reforms to the welfare system are failing vulnerable people, with less practical support being available to people in urgent need, a charity has claimed.
Hestia, a charity that delivers supported housing, registered care, domestic violence refuges, community outreach services and day centres across London, found that vulnerable people are not being adequately protected by the current welfare system.
Hestia’s services support adults and children who are in crisis, including people with mental health needs as well as victims of domestic abuse. In response to the government’s current consultation on local welfare provision, the charity spoke to staff and service users across its schemes to find out the effects that the removal of Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans, as well as cuts to discretionary funds are having on the most vulnerable in society.
The research found that it is common for women moving on from domestic abuse refuges to have no access to beds, fridges, cookers, washing machines or other essential household items as they moved into empty and unfurnished accommodation. This situation could remain unresolved for months due to current constraints and delays. Government proposals could withdraw discretionary support entirely and make the situation even worse.
Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, said: “From our experience of working with vulnerable people across London every day, we can see that the previous changes to the welfare system are failing those most in need. We are concerned that further changes and reductions to discretionary support will have devastating effects on the most vulnerable.
“We already see that discretionary assistance is inadequate to meet the needs of vulnerable people at a time of crisis. For example, we have seen women who are pregnant or with severe physical health needs being denied a bed to sleep in or a cooker to feed themselves for months on end.
“One service manager stated that of the 290 tenants she supports, around a quarter had made enquiries for financial and practical assistance – and none of these had been successful under the current provision. These setbacks undo much of our work to rebuild people’s lives. The human and financial costs of not providing these essential necessities are much greater than the financial commitment required to do so.”
The government’s consultation on local welfare provision closes on November 21. For more information on this, click here