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Renfrewshire secures £600,000 to support residents facing hardship

More than £600,000 of funding has been secured for vital projects to help Renfrewshire residents who are being hit by the UK Government’s benefit changes.

The council and its third sector partners worked on four funding bids that have brought a total of £678,896 into the area, meaning 15 extra staff posts can be created to help people cope with the impacts of welfare reform.

The cash has been secured from the Big Lottery’s Support and Connect fund and the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s (SLAB) Making Advice Work fund and will be targeted to four projects:
* Helping Disability Living Allowance claimants through the benefit changing over to Personal Independence Payment
* Supporting tenants affected by ‘bedroom tax’
* Targeting financial advice to people with addiction and mental health issues
* Offering support to tenants facing hardship.

Councillor Mike Holmes, Renfrewshire Council’s Depute Leader, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that once again, Renfrewshire has been pro-active in doing all it can to work with partners to help local people who are being adversely affected by the UK Government’s benefit changes.

“The full impact of Welfare Reform is yet to be felt, with major changes to Disability Living Allowance still to be fully implemented and Universal Credit’s roll out date unknown. Tenants are still coming to terms with the ‘bedroom tax’ and many people are confused about the changes still to come. Our residents need support to help them cope and this major funding boost will compliment the hard work already done by our Advice Works team and the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

“My congratulations go to our third sector partners for their hard work in securing these funding bids as this money will go a long way in getting help, advice and support to those members of Renfrewshire’s community who need it the most.”

Summary of the awards and what will be delivered:

1) Big Lottery Support and Connect: £306,000 awarded for a project led by Federation of Local Associations in Renfrewshire (FLAIR). It will create seven posts to help tenants facing hardship. It will offer support on energy efficiency, specialist welfare advice, develop financial skills, and give information on using savings accounts, credit unions and accessing affordable loans.

2) SLAB Making Advice Work: £115,476 to help Disability Living Award (DLA) claimants with the change to Personal Independence Payment (PIP). One income adviser post will be created in Advice Works; and two posts will be created in Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) to increase welfare rights capacity.

3) SLAB Making Advice Work: £112,818 to target support to tenants affected by Under Occupancy Rules (‘bedroom tax’). Two adviser posts will be based in FLAIR; and one money adviser will be based in the council’s Housing Service.

4) SLAB Making Advice Work: £144,602 to target financial advice to people with mental health or addiction issues. One financial literacy worker will be based in RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health); and two income advisers will be based in Advice Works, working with addiction services.