Below if the response of the Leader of Birmingham City Council to my inquiry regarding Local Welfare Provision being expanded and ensuring it's not at risk.
Progress has been made with the provision of a pre-paid Visa card.
Let's ensure that the poor and vulnerable use this scheme and not only just foodbanks.
See what you think?
Dear Mr Jaddoo
Thank you for your email of 15th November 2013, concerning the Local Welfare Provision scheme in Birmingham.
I am sure you are aware the council approached several retailers during its preparation of the Local Welfare Provision scheme in order to assist with the provision of crisis payments to the most vulnerable citizens in the city. As part of the original procurement process it was clear that the other supermarkets were unable to meet the challenging timescales imposed by central government regarding the introduction of LWP. It was only ASDA that had the capacity to develop the necessary process in order to implement the scheme by 1st April 2013.
Since its inception the council has considered alternative options to improve the choice and flexibility of crisis payments in the city with the intention of introducing an alternative to the ASDA pre-paid card option. I am pleased to say that the alternative system will be introduced in mid-December which will allow crisis payments to be awarded in the form of a pre-paid Visa debit card. The cards will provide the extra flexibility and choice to claimants of Local Welfare Provision and can be used in any retail outlet for the purchase of food and other essential provisions associated with their individual circumstances.
Regarding the future of Local Welfare Provision in Birmingham there is no intention to abolish the scheme or to utilise the funds for reasons other than the provision of financial assistance to those in dire financial crisis, both as a result of the current economic climate and the impact of the Governments welfare reforms that have been implemented across the country since April 2013.
It is worth highlighting, however, that Central Government have not yet confirmed funding for Local Welfare Provision to be provided to Local Authorities beyond 2014/15. The Department for Work and Pensions have committed to reviewing this expenditure during 2014/15 and as such, I cannot predict into the future as to the availability of the necessary funds in order to continue the Local Welfare provision Scheme in Birmingham.
I am sure you would agree that the imminent launch of the pre-paid Visa cards is a positive development in the scheme for Local Welfare Provision in Birmingham. The scheme is still in its infancy and officers will continue to develop further improvements.
I trust this clarifies the matter.
Councillor Sir Albert Bore
LEADER OF THE COUNCIL