Issue - meetings

Welfare Reform Update

Meeting: 08/12/2021 - Community, Housing & Assets Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Item 31)

31 Welfare Reform Update pdf icon PDF 217 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Committee support the ongoing work to manage the impacts that welfare reform has and will continue to have upon some of the most vulnerable residents in Flintshire.

Minutes:

The Benefits Manager introduced an update on the impacts that welfare reforms continued to have on Flintshire residents and the work that was ongoing to mitigate this and support these households.  Vulnerable households had also been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and the report also provided information around the range of measures that had been developed to help those affected by the current pandemic and the support provided to residents to help mitigate the negative impacts. 

 

The Benefits Manager provided a detailed update on the following areas, as highlighted within the report:

 

  • The removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift.  A case study had been provided which highlighted concerns and choices residents would have to make.  There had not been a huge demand for support at present but it was available should it be required;   
  • There had been an increase in demand for budgeting support as residents had to stretch their budgets;
  • Council Tax Reduction Scheme.  Despite the huge demand during the pandemic, there had been a slow uptake at present.  Work had been undertaken to understand when support would be required to support people in difficulty;
  • Ending of the furlough scheme.  At present there had not been a huge demand for requests for support.  It could be that people were juggling their finances, and this would continue to be monitored and all of the processes were in place to provide assistance;
  • Isolation payments were still on going with a high volume of applications being submitted; and
  • Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) were continuing to increase steadily. There had been a reduction in funding from the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) but Welsh Government (WG) had committed £126,000 in addition to the DWP payments to enable that support.

 

The Benefits Manager also provided a verbal update on the Winter Fuel Support Allowance.  The Scheme was subject to WG final approval and would be opened on Monday 13th December, 2021.  All Local Authorities in Wales were adopting the same approach and it was anticipated that there would be 9,000 claimants in Flintshire.  There were benefit entitlement conditions attached and conditions with regard to energy providers.  Eligible residents were able to claim £100 off their fuel bills.  She confirmed that this would be published once approved via social media, websites etc.  In January following data analysis those eligible households who had not claimed would be approached to encourage them to claim.

 

The Chair thanked the Benefits Manager for a detailed update.  The recommendation, as outlined within the report, was moved and seconded by Councillor David Wisinger and Councillor Ron Davies.   

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Committee support the ongoing work to manage the impacts that welfare reform has and will continue to have upon some of the most vulnerable residents in Flintshire.