Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

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As another year draws to a close we reflect on the challenges local organisations are experiencing in delivering welfare reform.

Policy in Practice asked local organisations supporting vulnerable people:

  • What were the main challenges your residents faced?
  • What were the main challenges your organisation faced in 2016?
  • What are your hopes and fears for tackling poverty in 2017?

The infographic below summarises the results of our survey. Download infographic (PDF) here

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Top 5 challenges faced by low income households in 2016

  1. Childcare
  2. Skills
  3. Mental health
  4. Available jobs
  5. Other ill health

Top 5 challenges faced by local authorities in 2016

  1. Budget cuts
  2. Housing
  3. Engaging people
  4. More reforms
  5. Barriers to work

Residents’ hopes for 2017

  • Funding for development of affordable homes is increased
  • Universal Credit is better understood and explained by JCP advisors
  • Residents affected by the Benefit Cap get better support

Residents’ fears for 2017

  • Personal debt and mental health issues will continue to escalate
  • Vulnerable people are unable to manage their money
  • Direct payments will lead to increased arrears

Local authority’s hopes for 2017

  • Devolution brings genuine powers to deliver a holistic service
  • Joined up information and insight leads to a single view of each household
  • More action, less talk leads to better public services

Local authority’s fears for 2017

  • Universal Credit and Homelessness Reduction bill means more change
  • Housing shortages mean more cost and difficult decisions for advisors
  • With fewer resources local authorities must support more people, with inconsistent support from JCP work coaches

Six important themes for local government in 2017

  1. Housing is the biggest issue for LAs. Affordability and availability of homes for rent, plus the cost of temporary accommodation, are critical issues
  2. Households in work are now expected to progress, but what works? Skills, childcare and health are bigger barriers to work than motivation to get a job
  3. Engagement with customers is an ongoing challenge, whilst communication with DWP and other partners needs to substantially improve
  4. There is no more debate or uncertainty, now is the time for implementing UC. LAs want to learn from those who’ve gone first – learn from our clients
  5. Support budgets are inadequate. Finely targeting support and using data to segment is essential to help those most in need – use your household data
  6. Better quality advice needs to be given for staff, and subsequently by staff, to residents. Some LAs are not ready for rollout of UC – check out our advisor software

 

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