More LWA schemes in England have closed, more of the additional Government funding, (now the Household Support Fund), was used for targeted direct grants rather than open to applications, and yet more tight spending timescales have meant local authorities have been under huge pressure to distribute funding in their local area before deadlines mean the funding is returned to Westminster.
It is again a more complex funding picture than in the past as core funding for LWA is mixed with the additional emergency Government grants, but the fundamental picture is still the same, core funding for LWA by local authorities continues to drop, and sadly millions more people are looking for crisis support but unable to apply in many local authority areas.
35 Local Authorities did not operate a Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) scheme in 2021/22. This has increased from 32 schemes in 2020/21.
Local authorities spent a total of £55.5m on LWA in 2021/22. Excluding 2020/21, this is the highest amount spent on LWA since 2015/16, largely due to additional Government funding provided through the Household Support Fund.
Although overall spending was high by recent historical standards, the amount that came from local authorities’ core funding was £30.5m – the lowest core spend on record and a 91% reduction on local authority LWA spend in 2010.
45% (or £25m) of LWA was funded by money from the Household Support Fund as opposed to core funding.
Overall per capita LWA spend in England was £0.98 this year, down from £1.30 last year. Two thirds of local authorities have reduced their per capita spending in the last year.
Furniture spend was £24m in 2021/22. This was 44% of LWA expenditure this year, an increase of 12% on the proportion spent on furniture in 2020/21. It is encouraging to see that local authorities recognise the vital role of crisis support in providing people with essential furniture and white goods.
There were approximately 242,000 awards made this year compared with around 449,000 in 2020/21, a 46% decrease in awards.
Please see the recording of our webinar, which talks through the report and the key findings in more detail: