Council tax support consultation 2019
Comment on proposed changes to our council tax support scheme, which would come into effect from 1 April 2020.
Local support and prevention fund
What is the LSPF?
The Local Support and Prevention Fund (LSPF) exists to help vulnerable people who are facing crisis, or who may need help to stay independent in the community. It's there to meet short-term immediate needs. This is not a cash scheme - cash would only be given if there was no other way of meeting need.
We make sure that we look at all of a person’s circumstances when deciding an award, and the guidance we work to makes sure that we're fair and equitable.
The decisions we make are discretionary, which means they're not based on what the law has to say; we can look at all of the issues a person may have before deciding if we can help.
We'll take into account the nature, extent and urgency of a person’s need in every case, but we'll challenge expectations and may suggest alternative ways of meeting those needs.
The team we've set up to administer the LSPF, the Welfare Reform and Support Team, works in partnership with the voluntary and community sector because this makes sure we get the best value for money when using the fund, and also allows us to get people the wider support they may need.
The LSPF is for those who are most in need of help - those in our community who are the most vulnerable. Help is targeted at people who might need help to set up in the community for the first time, or who may need help to stay independent in their home, and people who need some immediate help because of a crisis situation.
To be eligible for a support or prevention payment you must be:
- Aged 16 or over
- Not subject to immigration control
- On a low income
- Without the money you need to meet your immediate needs, or
- Someone leaving care, or
- Someone needing help to stay in the community, or
- Able to show that you don’t have enough money to meet the immediate basic needs of you and/or your dependents
For example, the people who might need help from us might include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Families under exceptional pressure
- Homeless people or rough sleepers
- Vulnerable older people
- People fleeing domestic violence
- Young people leaving care
- People moving out of institutional or residential care
- Ex-offenders leaving prison or detention centres
- Chronically or terminally ill people
- People with alcohol or drug issues
- People with learning difficulties
Awards to help with a crisis might be for people who:
- Have no essential food
- Need essential goods for infants/children
- Have no heating or cannot meet other household fuel costs for pre-payment meters
- Require help with emergency travel costs
- Have suffered a major upheaval or disaster (events of great or sudden misfortune, such as major flooding, gas explosion, chemical leak or house fire, but not minor mishaps or damage)
- Require suitable clothing for job interviews or work
- Require help towards essential medical related costs (where not provided by the NHS or another body)
- Require assistance to cover living expenses until they receive their first payment of benefit or salary, where this is not met by other benefits
Helping someone to set up home in the community might be considered for people who (this list is not exhaustive):
- Have been in long term care
- Have left prison
- Have fled domestic violence
- Move to supported accommodation/independent living
- Need essential repairs to heating systems or modes of travel
Awards that we might make include:
- Living expenses (gas, electricity, heating oil, food)
- White goods
- Provision of heating appliances
- Essential domestic appliances/cookware
- Essential domestic furniture (including white goods)
- Clothing for expectant mothers and babies
- Travel expenses (including emergency transport costs)
- Deposits or rent in advance for new accommodation
- Replacing household items including clothing
We can't normally help with:
- A television or satellite cost or repair
- Installation of a telephone or telephone line
- Housing costs or arrears of rent
- Costs normally met by state support or benefits including universal credit
- Debts, including those to a government department
- Motor vehicle expenses
- TV licence
- Maternity expenses
- Cold weather payments
- Winter fuel payments
- Housing costs, repairs or improvements
- Where the customer has access to sufficient income or savings
- Costs associated with care provision
- Educational or training needs (such as school uniforms)
- Court or legal fines, fees, expenses etc
- Removal or storage on compulsory purchase
- Domestic assistance or respite care
- Medical, surgical, optical, oral or dental items
- Work-related expenses
- Mobility needs
- Car expenses
- Fuel (petrol or diesel costs) that are unrelated to travel to and from work
How do we make our awards?
If there's an alternative way of getting help we'll expect you to take that alternative. Where we agree to help, we make our awards through goods and services instead of cash, and if we feel that there are things you could do to help yourself and to improve your situation we'll take into account how long this might take.
So if you need help with food, we'll provide you with a voucher so you can obtain food from one of the county’s food banks. If you require furniture, we'll make an award of furniture from one of the county’s furniture schemes. This page includes links to the local furniture schemes’ and food banks’ web pages.
All of the foodbanks and some of the furniture schemes will only help if you're referred to them by one of the agencies they work with; they won't provide help if you approach them directly.
If we help you through the LSPF and we later find out you shouldn't have received this help we'll ask you to repay the award.
The LSPF may help someone with their immediate needs, but we'll also aim to help someone to be more self-reliant. You may be signposted to other help that will enable you to overcome your difficulties. This might include (this list is not exhaustive):
- Budgeting and financial advice
- A variety of support services who can assist you with other personal difficulties
- Community mental health support
- Community substance misuse support
- Citizens Advice Shropshire
We won't normally help again if someone has asked for help with the same item or service in the previous twelve months. If circumstances have changed then we may be able to help.
How to apply
To apply for support though the fund, please call us on 0345 678 9078 to make an application. Alternatively, you can download and complete an LSPF application form.
You'll need to have full details of the money you have coming in, and also what you have to pay out. We may ask you for proof of your savings and capital.
We'll look at all of your available money and your outgoings in order to decide on an award, but we won't include anything that you've paid out if it wasn't necessary to do so.
Please read our policy for further details.
If you've been receiving income-related benefits for at least 26 weeks, we may advise you to apply for a budgeting loan from the Department for Work and Pensions instead.