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Making welfare work locally: Trafford Council

30 October 2014

Trafford Assist

Summary of scheme

  • Scheme covers food parcels, fuel vouchers and furniture/white goods and other discretionary help as appropriate.
  • Applications are made though Trafford CAB’s dedicated helpline and can also be made online.
  • Available to anyone aged over 16, living in Trafford, or intending to within the next six weeks.
  • Food parcels are provided via the CAB, cover three days’ worth of food and can be collected the same day.
  • Fuel vouchers can be used to top up fuel keys at Paypoint outlets – available to collect at libraries and CAB.
  • Furniture and white goods are provided by Rainbow Recycling Centre.

Key facts and figures

  • In 2013/14, 3036 applications were made and 81 per cent were successful.
  • 1767 households were helped with food parcels.
  • 1368 households were with helped with fuel vouchers.
  • 576 households were given furniture.

Why Trafford’s approach stood out

In designing Trafford Assist, the council worked hard to involve local partners to make best use of both the new funding and local expertise and resources. They saw the funding as an opportunity to provide better access to wider services to people who may previously only have sought help in crisis and not accessed services that would address their longer term challenges. The scheme was clearly defined, focusing on providing essentials such as food, fuel, furniture and white goods, but was sufficiently flexible to be able to consider other applications on a discretionary basis.

Key features of the work in Trafford

  • Early planning involving local partners already working with vulnerable people. Plans started in summer 2012 by the adult social care team. They held well attended consultation events with colleagues from across the council, the community and voluntary sector and Jobcentre Plus. They discussed lessons to learn from the social fund, considered eligibility, access and effective referral routes. From this they developed a partnership group that continues to meet to keep the scheme under constant review.
  • Joined up services to make efficient use of resources. The CAB makes claims for residents and assesses their wider advice needs at the same time. The council department that processes the claims also deals with discretionary housing payments and can make an award from whichever pot is most appropriate. A welfare rights officer works within the Trafford Assist team who are able to deal with all sanctions cases.
  • Flexibility and trust balanced with accountability checks. The scheme will provide up to two food and fuel awards per household a year and one furniture item. An award of food and fuel is given without income and expenditure checks. Requests for furniture, which is of greater cost value is only granted after an income and expenditure assessment and a home visit.
  • Regular review and future planning. They have introduced toiletries with the food parcels and discretion to provide travel vouchers. They are beginning to assess the financial benefits of the scheme in terms of its contribution to preventing greater spending later on. They have already secured agreement for the projected underspend to be carried over to 2015/16 and the project steering group has presented a report on the value of the scheme to the members. The report uses case studies to stress the value of the scheme to residents in crisis.
  • Indepth Trafford showcase [ 180 kb]