West Sussex criticises government cutback

Louise Goldsmith
Louise Goldsmith

A ‘CUT too far’ by the government has seen funding stopped that helps families in crisis.

West Sussex County Council said it had joined with other councils across England and Wales in calling on the government to change its mind over the scrapping of a fund that provided emergency support to people facing short-term crises.

The council said the withdrawal of £347m local welfare assistance fund could leave it unable to help out families in crisis.

Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: ““While we all understand the need to make savings and deliver efficiencies, this is a cut too far, and we hope the government will be prepared to revisit its decision.

“We had set up exactly what the government wanted us to set up and we believe it was helping people in need.”

She added: “We have now been left with an unfunded new burden so if we fund this – and we know that morally we have to – then another service will lose out. This is about people needing help at the most vulnerable point in their lives.

“Without it, I fear many people will go to loan sharks and find themselves in even worse trouble.”

The fund was introduced in 2013 to replace government-provided crisis loans.

West Sussex was allocated £1.24m, which it directed towards its local assistance network.

The decision was taken not to renew funding in 2015, without a review having been made.

The fund provides assistance in kind, such as furniture and foodbank vouchers.