Scott Dawes
Scott Dawes

By Scott Dawes

Local Welfare: How you helped win back £74 million

I wanted to share some good news…

After looking like we’d lose it entirely, and a year of campaigning, we’ve been thrown a lifeline of a £74 million pounds to help keep local welfare schemes funded.

Making the case for welfare spending can be a pretty thankless task and positive news stories are few and far between. But this U-turn shows that if we use our first-hand experience to demonstrate exactly how local support can help homeless families back on their feet, and work with others to make a compelling case to the Government and the public, we can achieve real change.

It hasn’t been easy:

Shelter has had to persistently lobby officials, advisers and ministers to demonstrate what the schemes do and tell them just how much difference they make.

Our supporters have been instrumental; they sent over 4,000 responses to one Government consultation alone. We’ve also had thousands more people share graphics through social media to keep up the public pressure.

But none of this would have been possible were it not for our services. As always, we relied on our housing advisers working tirelessly across the country to tell us who these schemes helped and how. This allowed us to make a powerful case of the likely impacts of removing all of the funding. Very few organisations were able to do this as effectively as Shelter and it’s important to remember where we can add real value in these crucial campaigns. 

Some will say £74 million is still a cut compared to previous years – and that’s true. To be honest, we’d have loved funding to continue at the previous level, if not increased. But that’s not the battle we had to fight: when faced with no funding and the complete decimation of schemes, £74 million to allow schemes to keep going is significant.  On Monday councils faced closing or cutting local welfare putting people at risk of homelessness, but on Tuesday they didn’t – and that’s huge.

Predictably, there is some devil in the detail and councils will probably have to fund the schemes from a combination of new money and their existing budgets. But Tuesday’s decision means the case can now be made locally for this support to continue . And it’s vital that it is.  

So we’re pleased that Shelter can still help people through these schemes; we’re grateful to the Government for listening and finding the extra money; we’re thankful to our supporters for getting involved; and we are extremely lucky to have the dedicated service staff to help make the case for vital support services.

A big thank you to everyone involved.

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