This week the settlement for local government has been announced. In most areas it will result in greater cuts in local services than had been anticipated.
It was reported that there was a Cabinet split over cuts to local welfare crisis funds. It seems that Local Government and Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, was overruled by the Chancellor, George Osborne. Pickles, who was supported by several Sussex MPs including Hastings MP, Amber Rudd, had argued that the welfare crisis fund should get some protection.
This fund provides invaluable relief for those experiencing acute poverty.
Naomi Ridley, the chief executive of Hastings Furniture Service (HFS), tells of a case where staff from HFS were delivering beds to a family who had just moved into accommodation. When they were putting the beds in the children’s rooms they also unpacked duvets and pillows. The children’s mother could not stop crying. When asked why, she explained she had only expected mattresses, but having duvets and pillows meant that she could tuck her children up at night. Something so simple but something that meant so much for the mum.
The BHT member of staff who related this story to me said that she could think back to how warm and safe and snuggly it felt when she was a child being tucked up in bed by her mother. My colleague said: “The world is not always a good place, and there are many things that children are going through that they shouldn’t, such as being hungry, abused, living in temporary accommodation.”
Putting an end to that is nowhere in sight.
My colleague continued: “But being tucked up and experiencing the warm, safe, snuggly feelings is something we can make sure children don’t miss out on”.
The human benefit of local welfare crisis funds cannot be overemphasised.