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Protecting the vulnerable – how to keep 100% Council Tax Reduction in your area!

25 October 2017
As the elected Mayor of Bedford Borough, in 2013 I faced 40 per cent cuts in local government financing, a new localism agenda and welfare reform.

Children of austerity

13 April 2017
Thanks to the UNICEF Office for Research a book has been published today tracing what happened to children in rich countries following the financial crisis.

What do experts and professionals think of the ‘local welfare safety net’?

17 November 2015
Does local discretion on social security deliver ‘localism in action’ or a postcode lottery? That’s one of the questions being asked by the Commons Work and Pensions select committee in looking at the interaction between the national benefits system and locally-run schemes.

What is happening to discretionary housing payments?

16 March 2015
If you had heard the Minister for Disabled People, Mark Harper, reassuring MP on Monday this week about future funding levels of Discretionary Housing Payments, you would be forgiven for believing that, on this issue, the Government was making adequate resources available to meet needs

Save our safety net

20 November 2014
Four children are left home alone for five days. Social services step in to move the kids out to live with their father. But there’s a problem: the council have found a flat for the newly formed family, but it is unfurnished.

The future of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes

18 September 2014
This week, the government committed to making a fresh decision on how Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS) (also called Local Welfare Provision) will be funded in 2015/16. Their decision will be informed by a thorough examination of how schemes are functioning, and the needs of those that benefit from them - great news for the vulnerable people that rely on them in times of need.

The dark side of localism: when boroughs want to keep "council tax tourists" out

14 August 2014
In the 1949 Ealing comedy Passport to Pimlico, residents of the London borough set themselves up as a separate state with predictably comic results. When Pimlico’s governing committee lifts post-war rationing, shoppers flood to the new dominion only to find themselves trapped when its borders are later closed.

A new poll tax?

16 July 2014
If I lost my job tomorrow, one of the things that I would expect would be that while I was not earning, I would not be paying tax. However, in 26 out of 33 London boroughs this is not the case: I would still need to pay council tax.

The government’s child poverty strategy needs to be more child-focused, more poverty-focused, and more strategic

23 May 2014
This week, the official consultation closed on, potentially, the Coalition’s most important social policy objective– the new child poverty strategy. Running from 2014-17, the draft strategy covers the critical period during which we’d expect to see a big push to meet the statutory target to end child poverty by 2020 – especially given Iain Duncan Smith’s recent reaffirmation that he both remains committed to the target, and expects it to be met.

Shredding the safety net to our national safety net

09 May 2014
The UK’s social security system has long recognised that benefit levels are not sufficient for claimants to build up savings and manage unexpected or one-off costs. However, from April 2015, there will be no source of funding for this.