Charity alliance calls for urgent intervention as demand outstrips crisis funding



A coalition of grant-making organisations is warning that demand for emergency charitable grants is outstripping funding available because of a lack of welfare support, as pressure on crisis support skyrockets amidst the cost-of-living storm.

The Grant Makers Alliance (GMA) is concerned that people on the lowest incomes will be plunged further into financial insecurity, unless local welfare support is sufficiently bolstered, particularly where need is greatest. Recent data from End Furniture Poverty found spend on local welfare assistance in England lagged far behind at £1.30 per capita, compared to Scotland (£9.05) and Wales (£8.07).

Local welfare schemes are delivered by local authorities and provide direct grants to people in a time of crisis to help with food, fuel and essential furniture items.

The coalition of charities, which includes Buttle UK, End Furniture Poverty, Smallwood Trust, Family Fund, Glasspool and Turn2us, is calling for:

  • Long-term funding of £485m for at least three years for local authorities in England, building on the foundations laid during the pandemic.
  • Providing local authorities the certainty to plan cash-based crisis support, and coordinate with local systems and services already in place.

Local welfare support can be an effective response to sudden unexpected costs such as a fridge breaking, which, without support, can tip people into longer-term hardship. The pandemic underlined the crucial role that local crisis support can play in complementing the national social security system, with almost £1bn spent on supporting local authorities in England to respond to hardship during the pandemic.

The coalition initially welcomed the £500m investment into the extension of the Household Support Fund that was announced during March’s Spring Statement. However, unless the Government delivers a new settlement for integrated local crisis support to empower communities to help people cover unexpected costs on an annual basis, organisations in the GMA will be left to pick up the pieces in supporting people hardest hit.

GMA Member Joseph Howes, Chief Executive of children’s charity, Buttle UK, says:

“With the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation impacting millions of people, now is an opportune moment for the Government to set a clear vision for how local welfare assistance can focus on tackling destitution at points of temporary crisis. Existing investment will help some, but we know action must go further.

“Local authorities need to be empowered to build an integrated approach to crisis support. This is only possible through a long-term commitment to funding and without it – we, as an alliance, are concerned that the funding we have available to prop up the welfare system will only go so far. We urgently call on the Government to support the levelling up agenda and focus on making the best use of investment in local support to help everyone to afford the essentials.”

The Grant Makers Alliance includes Turn2us, Buttle UK, End Furniture Poverty, Smallwood Trust, Family Fund, Glasspool UK.