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If you were a councillor, would you choose to pay for an emergency fund for those hit by sudden problems - or for rubbish collection? That seems to be the choice the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are putting before councils.

If you were a councillor, would you choose to pay for an emergency fund for those hit by sudden problems – or for rubbish collection? That seems to be the choice the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are putting before councils.

George Osborne has had his way after all, in his bid to end funding for ‘local welfare assistance provision’ – the safety-net fund for people hit by floods, fire, domestic violence or a shortage of food or money.

But the way the decision has been described seems to have wrong-footed even campaigning organisation 38 Degrees.

Rather than continue the £170 million fund with money from central government, council’s are being asked to put money towards a (reduced) fund of £130 million – from their own reduced budgets.

It is therefore inaccurate for 38 Degrees to say “The government has set aside £130m for the emergency fund for people in crisis”. [1] Not only are they asking councils to stump up the money; they’ve left it up to councils whether they use it for that or not. So there’s still no certainty.

The announcement has caused considerable confusion – some think the news is good, some think it is bad. [2]

Already this year councils have had their budgets slashed. In 2015, some local authorities could be forced to cut vital services or have to choose between shutting a library or reducing weekly bin collections. [3]

So we can already look forward to more misery in the New Year, courtesy of – and don’t you forget it – the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

NOTES:
[1] Department for Communities and Local Government: Local Government Finance Settlement 2015-16:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/389113/Local_Government_Finance_Settlement_2015-16_-_Consultation.pdf
[2] The Children’s Society: Preservation of local welfare a welcome relief for families:
http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/retention-of-local-welfare-assistance-a-welcome-relief-for-families
Child Poverty Action Group: Child Poverty Action Group criticises local welfare decision:
http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/child-poverty-action-group-criticises-local-welfare-decision
[3] Daily Mail: Anger as councils face funding cuts:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2879071/Councils-face-1-8-cut-funding.html

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