Cut to cash for needy residents ‘late Christmas present for loan sharks’ say Islington Council

Cllr Andy Hull: 'This is a late Christmas present for loan sharks'

Cllr Andy Hull: 'This is a late Christmas present for loan sharks' - Credit: Archant

A vital fund to help domestic violence victims, the homeless and vulnerable pensioners has been shredded by the Government despite fierce opposition, Islington Council has said.

From April the Local Welfare Fund, a £1.4million pot the council uses to support the some of the borough’s most downtrodden residents, will disappear from its Whitehall grant. When the cut was first announced in 2013, the council, along with the Child Poverty Action Group and a disabled man from Cheshire, launched a judicial review. The High Court told the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to go back and do a proper consultation before going ahead with the cut. But despite many charites speaking out against the plan, and Islington councillors meeting with Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Ian Duncan Smith, the fund still looks set to be slashed.

Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, said: “This is a late Christmas present from the Government for loan sharks and payday lenders.

“We have campaigned long and hard against this short-sighted cut, but the Government just doesn’t care. Removing local welfare provision is a false economy when modest sums spent now can avoid much higher social and economic costs later on. This safety net supports families to stay together, helps people sustain their tenancies and keeps kids out of care. It is a lifeline, not a luxury. Now, thanks to the Government, it lies in shreds.”

Kristina Glenn, director of the Cripplegate Foundation charity, said: “At a time when local government funding is being drastically reduced, this will have a major impact on our poorest neighbours.

“This cut is a bad decision that will create needless misery and cost government departments and taxpayers more in the long term. We will continue to campaign for the reinstatement of this vital safety net.”

A DWP spokesman said: “We believe local authorities need to be set free when it comes to deciding what their priorities should be, so this money will not be ring-fenced. This will allow them to target the money to those people who need it most.”