ARGYLL and Bute Council has agreed a raft of proposals aimed at helping people in the area who have been affected by welfare reform and changes to benefits.
At their meeting on Thursday 13th February, councillors heard that the local authority has been allocated £550,390 to help mitigate the impact of welfare reform on people in the area.
This means that the council will pay out on all medium and high hardship level DHP applications for 2013/14 and 2014/15. For those affected by under-occupancy provisions, the period of awards for DHPs will be extended to 52 weeks initially, and these may be renewed for a further 52 weeks following review.
There will also be a tenant incentive scheme to help people move to smaller properties and remove the impact of the spare room subsidy.
Qualifying tenants will receive £500 as part of the scheme agreed by the council.
The council will also be providing extra, dedicated support and information for people in Argyll and Bute who are dealing with changes to benefits and welfare reform. This will include taking a holistic approach to the needs of customers who are affected by welfare reform.
Other initiatives agreed by the council include working with credit unions to provide transactional banking and money management facilities within Argyll and Bute and providing wifi access in rural schools - this will allow delivery of IT literacy courses to help people dealing with benefits which increasingly have to be managed online.
There will also be crisis prevention and intervention support provision across Argyll and Bute, working in partnership with local registered social landlords and third sector groups to support people in crisis and to help them find ways of avoiding future difficulties.
Argyll and Bute Council Leader, Councillor Dick Walsh, said: “We have taken a prudent decision today which is all about ensuring that those in Argyll and Bute who truly need help are able to get it.
“Some people could face real hardship and it is important for us to ensure that we make the best possible use of this funding and spend it wisely.
“By the end of January this year we had already paid out £308,999 (in 604 awards) and after today’s decision we will now be paying out for all medium and high hardship applications.
“We know how important it is to make sure that people who really need help are able to get it, and that is why we will be reviewing this regularly to make sure that it’s working for the people of Argyll and Bute.”
More detail about the measures that Argyll and Bute Council will take to help those affected by welfare reform can be found at http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s85123/SG%20welfare%20reform%20and%20DHP%20funding%20Council%20Feb%202014v3.pdf