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Council’s vital Welfare Fund top up takes effect to help local people

Council’s vital Welfare Fund top up takes effect to help local people.

Renfrewshire Council’s Scottish Welfare Fund top up of £150,000 proved vital this month when the initial Government pot was fully used up.

The Finance and Resources Policy Board heard recently that the Welfare Fund sum of £1,148,858 the council received from the Scottish Government in April 2013, stood at just £24,076 at the end of February. By 7 March, this was fully used up.

In January, the council feared the crucial support fund would run out before the new pot from the Scottish Government was in place at the start of April 2014, and the council top up was approved.

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Councillor Mike Holmes, Depute Leader, said: “During the first week of March, our Scottish Welfare Fund budget from the Scottish Government was used up. Not only does this show that many local people have been pushed to the brink by harsh welfare cuts and the rising cost of living – but also that Renfrewshire should have received more support from the Scottish Government.

“We feared the Government’s welfare fund allocation would be used before the new financial year started and fortunately our £150,000 top up was able to take effect to make sure the people in our community who need help the most, can continue to receive it until the new Scottish Welfare Fund sum arrives at the beginning of April.

“I’m glad we were able to bridge this gap to make sure families facing hardship still have access to this crucial support fund.”

People who are facing crisis or hardship and would like to apply to the Scottish Welfare Fund should call 0300 300 0204.

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Council event keeps welfare reform high on the local agenda

Council event keeps welfare reform high on the local agenda.

Renfrewshire Council has hosted a welfare reform event aimed at supporting local third sector organisations in their efforts to help vulnerable people affected by UK Government welfare changes.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Depute Leader of Renfrewshire Council, hosted the event in Paisley Town Hall (on Tuesday November 19). Over 50 representatives from community and voluntary organisations in Renfrewshire attended the event titled ‘Benefits are Changing – Providing Information and Support.’

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Presentations given on the day discussed Scottish Welfare Fund (June Reid, Renfrewshire Council); Discretionary Housing Payments (Barry Jardine, Renfrewshire Council); Development of Financial Skills (Alison Dowling, Renfrewshire Wide Credit Union); and Sharing Good Practice (Lynn Williams, Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations).

Councillor Mike Holmes, Depute Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “Our third sector has such an important role to play in helping and supporting communities who are being hit by the UK Government’s benefit cuts. Many vulnerable families go to local organisations looking for help and it’s vital that we keep sharing information about the support available to residents who are struggling.”

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, unveiled plans for a £500,000 funding injection for Renfrewshire’s Credit Unions at the event. He said: “Welfare Reform continues to be the most significant threat to our area and we want to make absolutely sure we keep dialogue open with our third sector partners.

“Responding to the benefit cuts and helping the area cope is a top priority for this council and we’ve demonstrated this through a package of measures that include topping the DHP fund to its maximum and pledging significant funding to support a credit union initiative that will help residents gain access to banking and fair credit.

“But over and above the work we’re doing, we recognise the valuable work being delivered by local third sector organisation in towns and villages across Renfrewshire to support the vulnerable through these difficult times. I’d like to thank everyone who came along to our event.”

Courtesy of Renfrewshire Council