Government to reconsider changes to £174million crisis fund after Islington Council led challenge

Cllr Andy Hull

Cllr Andy Hull - Credit: Archant

A vital £3.2million lifeline to the borough’s most vulnerable people could be saved after the government backed down on plans to axe it.

Islington Council joined up with Child Poverty Action group and a disabled man from Cheshire to take the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to the High Court over plans to throw out the Local Welfare Provision Fund (LWPF) next April.

The fund, worth £174m nationally, forms a third of Town Hall’s Resident Support Scheme (RSS), which has allowed the council and the Cripplegate Foundation to come to the aid of thousands of Islington residents in crisis since it was set up in April 2013.

The council argued that cutting LWPF could seriously harm local authorities’ efforts to support residents in genuine need, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, pensioners struggling to maintain their independence and people suffering from chronic physical and mental health problems.

Rather than continuing to defend its position at a judicial review hearing, the government will now revisit its decision to cut the fund.

Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, said: “We made this stand on behalf of tens of thousands of people in need of support up and down the country because we believe that what remains of society’s safety net is worth fighting for.

“This fund is a lifeline, not a luxury, keeping families together, sustaining tenancies and helping residents on the breadline to survive.

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“The government decided to abolish this vital fund without properly considering the consequences.

“Now, it will be forced to complete a review of the fund, consult properly and consider the equalities implications of its new proposals. I sincerely hope this will mean that the fund does carry on, so we can continue to offer a helping hand to Islington residents when they need it most.”