Issue - meetings

Resident Support Fund

Meeting: 08/03/2021 - Cabinet (Item 7)

7 Resident Support Fund pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Since April 2013, Brent has operated a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme (LWA) to support residents experiencing short-term emergency financial hardship or unexpected expenditure. This fund was complemented in August 2020 by the Resident Support Fund, the initial funding for which was provided to support residents specifically affected by the Covid virus outbreak and subsequent lockdowns.

 

This report outlines a proposal to bring the current LWA scheme to a close, and merge and integrate those parts of the LWA that are not currently offered within the Resident Support Fund.

Decision:

Cabinet RESOLVED:

 

(1)      To agree to discontinue the current Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) scheme.

 

(2)     To approve the revision of the Resident Support Fund (RSF) to begin 1 April 2021 as set out in section 5 of the report.

 

(3)     To delegate to the Strategic Director for Customer and Digital Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, authority to agree eligibility criteria for the new Resident Support Fund from 1 April 2021 to administer and award grants and loans.

 

(4)     To approve the continuation of an interest free loan arrangement as set out in section 7 of the report.

 

(5)     To approve payment to the Credit Union of such sums remaining in the Council Tax – Covid – 19 Hardship Fund 2020 – 21 and at such frequency as the Director of Finance considers appropriate from which Covid-19 Support Fund Loans will be made and delegate to the Director of Finance in consultation with the Director of Legal, HR, Audit and Investigations authority to finalise the terms of the investment.

 

(6)     To agree to transfer all remaining funds from the existing Local Welfare Scheme to the Resident Support Fund scheme.

Minutes:

Councillor Southwood, as Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform introduced a report on the proposal to bring the current Local Welfare Assistance Scheme (LWA) to an end, and revise the Resident Support Fund to include those parts of LWA that were not currently offered within it.

 

Cabinet noted that the LWA had been designed to support residents experiencing short-term emergency financial hardship or unexpected expenditure.  This had been supplemented in August 2020 by the Resident Support Fund, with funding from this source originally designed to support residents specifically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

 

The proposal to discontinue the LWA and include those elements not already covered within the revised operation of the Resident Support Fund formed part of the development of a more integrated and streamlined approach towards financial inclusion.  This include support for those residents experiencing financial hardship as the focus moved forward from the pandemic.

 

Members noted the outline of support mechanisms that the revised Fund had been designed to provide, as detailed within section 5 of the report.  This included a focus not only on welfare support but also for those experiencing difficulties in relation to rent and mortgage arrears.

 

In summing up, Councillor M Butt, Leader of the Council drew members’ attention to the current financial context in which the proposals were being brought forward, as detailed within section 4 of the report, which reflected the significant increase in the amount of households experiencing financial hardship across the borough during the pandemic.

 

Having considered the proposals, Cabinet RESOLVED:

 

(1)      To agree to discontinue the current Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) scheme.

 

(2)     To approve the revision of the Resident Support Fund (RSF) to begin 1 April 2021 as set out in section 5 of the report.

 

(3)     To delegate to the Strategic Director for Customer and Digital Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, authority to agree eligibility criteria for the new Resident Support Fund from 1 April 2021 to administer and award grants and loans.

 

(4)     To approve the continuation of an interest free loan arrangement as set out in section 7 of the report.

 

(5)     To approve payment to the Credit Union of such sums remaining in the Council Tax – Covid – 19 Hardship Fund 2020 – 21 and at such frequency as the Director of Finance considers appropriate from which Covid-19 Support Fund Loans will be made and delegate to the Director of Finance in consultation with the Director of Legal, HR, Audit and Investigations authority to finalise the terms of the investment.

 

(6)     To agree to transfer all remaining funds from the existing Local Welfare Scheme to the Resident Support Fund scheme.