Poverty; Food Banks & information on where to get help, when making an application for the Welfare Fund

Food Banks

For the individuals and families using food banks, hunger and hard choices between heating, eating, paying bills and servicing debts are real. People are turning to food banks, as a last resort but find asking for help is upsetting & extremely shameful. It does seem that between half and two-thirds of the people, who have accessed a Food Bank, the immediate crisis was linked to the operation of the benefits system, with problems including waiting for benefit payments, sanctions (An independent report reveals how a flawed and punitive benefits sanctions regime is having devastating consequences for homelessness, food poverty and health), or reduction in disability benefits or tax credit payments.  There is emergency support available to people (Local Welfare Assistance Scheme) but there is no guarantee that you will get help under this scheme. The funds are limited and will only be provided for emergency & short-term assistance. People i have asked about the Welfare Fund didn’t know it even existed.

People access food banks for many different reasons but all have one thing in common.

Poverty.

Poverty through loss of earnings, changes in family circumstances,problems with tax credit payments/Disability payments,debt (turning to ‘loan sharks’),homelessness *with evictions directly due to the recent Housing Benefit cap*,mental and/or physical ill health,substance/alcohol misuse,Domestic Violence…

Local welfare assistance schemes (LWAS) are designed to help people who are in urgent need following an emergency or unforeseen event. They replaced community care grants and crisis loans for living expenses in April 2013 and are for people who have no other source of help.

Short Term Benefit Advances are available to people claiming any contributory or means-tested benefit, including Universal Credit.

  • You have made a new claim for a benefit but will be in financial need until you receive your first payment
  • You have had a change in your circumstances that will increase the amount of benefit you are entitled to
  • It is not possible to pay your benefit on the due date. This could, for example, be due to a technical problem in processing your claim or payment.

You cannot get a Short Term Benefit Advance without having claimed a benefit first.

You must also be able to show that you are in financial need. This means that if you don’t get a Short Term Benefit Advance there is a serious risk of damage to the health and/or safety of you and/or your family. There is no set list of situations this covers but as an example, not being able to pay for gas or electricity could be a risk to your health.

However, if you are refused a short term benefit advance,there is no right of appeal against:

  • The amount of a Short Term Benefit Advance
  • A refusal to offer a Short Term Benefit Advance.

If you believe the correct process wasn’t followed when the decision was made then it may be possible to challenge the decision through the courts by a process called judicial review. You will need to seek specialist advice if you feel this is the case.

If anyone need access, to help support someone who is looking for help on the Welfare Fund, Benefits in general, Access to Work, these links are useful.

http://www.turn2us.org.uk/search?searchtext=welfare%20fund

If someone has Children

http://www.cpag.org.uk/lwas/bath-and-north-east-somerset

or make an appointment with CAB Bath here.

http://www.cab-banes.org/

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