Councillors will have to decide how to support welfare projects if no government money is handed over.

Previously the government spent £1.35m on local projects but last year gave Kirklees Council just £1.12m to run an in-house welfare scheme for those who hit hard times.

The council won’t know if they will get a government grant like last year's for some weeks, and it will be up to councillors to decide how to continue the Local Welfare Provision and help the poorest and most vulnerable in the community.

Jane Brady, assistant director for customer and exchequer services, said: “This is not about paying money out but about providing basic necessities like food and furniture, in certain circumstances fuel.

“We supported 3,913 people last year and 3,274 people so far this year.

“We give money to the Mission for the food bank; local charities such as Uniform Exchange and Fusion for white goods. We also support a store and cupboard scheme that provides food parcels.

“This is about working with partners and if people approach us we refer them to these schemes.”

David Smith, director of resources, explained the challenge they face: “The government indicated that this money will cease and it will be up to the council to determine how to continue to fund such schemes.

“A number of charitable organisations challenged this because they felt there was insufficient consultation, so the Secretary of State consulted and we anticipate a decision will come before Christmas.

Kirklees Council Director of Resources David Smith.
 

“We don’t know whether there will be money specified, if it will be included in the central grant, or if there will be anything at all.

“There are potential sources of income, Cabinet has indicated it wishes to use some of the money saved from strike action to support the working poor.

“We’ve allocated some money to the Credit Union and, depending on the government announcement, the remaining money could be made available for this scheme.”

Councillors on the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee also heard about how 294 families had been affected by the benefit cap two years ago, but just 86 households currently were.

The cap limits the amount of benefits a household can receive to £26,000.

Jane Brady said it was larger families who tended to receive that much, adding: “We visited 98% of the families and we’ve been able to provide solutions to help them.”

Clr Julie Stewart-Turner, chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee, said: “It’s good that we’ve been able to help as many people as we have done in these difficult times.”