Nope, Frances Ryan’s numbers still don’t add up

In many ways, the erosion of the local welfare fund is the definition of austerity at its worst: the state should be stripped back and the poorest and ill must go cap in hand to survive. But how we respond to it can define the sort of society we want Britain to be: whether in a crisis there should be a safety net to help a family get by or whether, ultimately, we are all on our own — families with disabled children included.

So, this erosion of that local thing:

Just four years ago, Kirsty could have turned to what was known as the “social fund”, a central government-run system of low-cost loans and grants for families in financial emergencies. But then austerity arrived and in 2013 the coalition government scrapped all community care grants and crisis loans, replacing them with a patchwork of devolved programmes that cash-strapped local authorities had no obligation to fund. The Conservatives claim that councils are “best-placed to decide how to support local welfare needs”,

Ah, so, it’s not an erosion is it? It’s actually the establishment of a local scheme, or schemes.

Which they don’t appear to be doing all that well, which is interesting, isn’t it? Because the same people who complain about this are the people who insist that local councils should be housing us all aren’t they? You know, with all that competence they’re showing here?

9 thoughts on “Nope, Frances Ryan’s numbers still don’t add up”

  1. Councils are fantastic for the left because they are hotbeds of socialism – at least the very where you divert cash to yourself and bugger everyone else.

    It’s a difficult decision as to which is more shit – central government or local government. At least with the former you can change the colour of the ties every 5 years.

  2. “Ah, so, it’s not an erosion is it? It’s actually the establishment of a local scheme, or schemes.”

    To be fair, that sounds like an erosion to me. Did the councils receive any extra funding to help establish such schemes? If they’re not obligatory then perhaps not.

    “Localism” is good, “postcode lotteries” are bad, so you can never really win. But if central government says to councils “we’re not going to fund this anymore, you lot sort something out” without giving them a legal duty to do so nor the cash to pay for if, then they can’t realistically claim they expected the councils to be enhancing the service, even with their extra local knowledge.

  3. the people who insist that local councils should be housing us

    Actually I suspect the Left would absolutely love a National Housing Service. All houses owned by the state, all builders employed by the state, long waiting lists, housing allocated by need, etc. It’s their wet dream.

  4. ‘But how we respond to it can define the sort of society we want Britain to be’

    There’s that Lefty assumption again:

    GOVERNMENT = SOCIETY

  5. @ken

    Quite. Whether they were right or wrong to do that, given their constraints, I’ve no idea. But such deprioritisation was always likely given tight funding conditions and the leeway they had not to replicate the previous levels of assistance, so I do think “erosion” was a fair description. It’s the sort of ploy that’d fit right in to a “Yes, Minister” plot – you think a scheme isn’t good value for money but don’t want to go down as the heartless bastard who cut it, so you shunt it off to some other branch of government knowing full well they’ll likely have to cut it themselves.

    Not saying doing so is necessarily a bad idea – if there’s an inefficient sacred cow that could do with a pruning, but its funding is directly within the purview of central government, it will always be subject to general election bidding wars. But it’s also fair to acknowledge that a lot of “localism” initiatives are basically a backdoor route to cuts.

  6. My small town has an old-established charity that hands out crisis grants to those in particular need. It responds more quickly than the “Social Fund” did.

    But that is doubtless unacceptable to the Grauniad.

  7. john77: I got one of those local charity grants in my 20s while waiting 18 months for the DSS to get their finger out and acknowledge that I was entitled to dole and actually pay me.

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