Saving the safety net - Judicial review against funding cut for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes – CPAG intervention
R(Christian Jump) v (1) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and (2) Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government CO/1838/2014
CPAG is an intervener in this judicial review challenge to the Government’s decision to cease grant funding for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes. These schemes provide vital support for vulnerable individuals and families in crisis, including disabled people, victims of domestic violence and pregnant mothers.
UPDATE 16 Sept 2014: By a Consent Order sealed on 16/09/14, the Government has agreed to reconsider its decision to cease funding for local welfare provision. The Order requires the DWP, DCLG and the Treasury to:
1. Complete the ongoing review of local welfare provision;
2. Conduct an “appropriate” consultation;
3. Consider the impact on equality and discrimination; and
4. Make a new decision on funding for local welfare provision for 2015/16.
The above steps must be completed by the time of the provisional local finance settlement (i.e. December 2014).
UPDATE Feb 2014: Following the Consultation, the DCLG has agreed to provide an additional £74 million for local welfare provision, around half the amount previously provided under the DWP grant. For details see http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/cpag-responds-local-welfare-decision
Local Welfare Assistance Schemes were introduced in 2012 in order to “localise” the discretionary parts of the Social Fund. At the time the Government committed c£170 million annual funding for the localised schemes and promised a review in 2014 “to inform future funding levels”. The Government told councils that funding should be “concentrated on those facing greatest difficulty in managing their income, and to enable a more flexible response to unavoidable need”.
In 2013 it emerged that the DWP grant for the schemes would cease from May 2015. This decision was made without any formal announcement, consultation or consideration of the equality duty and before the proposed review had taken place. CPAG has provided the Court with written evidence and submissions setting out the history of this part of the welfare state, the background to the Government’s decisions to localise and then cease funding and the likely effects on equality of opportunity.
A copy of CPAG’s submissions and evidence can be downloaded on the right of the page.
CPAG was represented by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills and by barristers Richard Drabble QC, Tim Buley and Zoe Leventhal, who have all generously given up their time pro bono.