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


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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Register for an upcoming webinar

TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How the housing crisis has deepened the cost of living crisis For most people housing is the highest living cost, yet the ongoing housing crisis in the UK is often overlooked when discussing the current cost of living crisis.

This webinar will explore the policy issues affecting housing affordability for low-income households, examining the scale of the problem as well as what can be done in both the short and long term.

We will highlight important work done by our clients using data to proactively address housing issues.

We will be joined by a leading local authority to discuss a recent project conducted with Policy in Practice that used benefits administration data to identify households in temporary accommodation that could be helped to move into the private rental sector.

Join this webinar to learn:

- How UK housing policy interacts with the cost of living crisis
- How local authorities are using data to proactively tackle housing affordability problems
- Actions you can take now to support your residents dealing with housing issues alongside the cost of living crisis
27/7/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data The government has said it wants to make life easier for the 'squeezed middle' or people who are just about managing. These are the families who are not rich and they are also not those on the lowest incomes. Despite most being in work, they are struggling to meet their cost of living and it is no wonder.

The cost of living hit a 30-year high in February with inflation running at 6.2% and outpacing wage growth. Electricity bills were up nearly 20% in the year to January 2022, and gas bills by 28%, with further rises expected. Private rental prices across the UK went up by 2% in the year to January, the highest rate for five years; in the East Midlands that figure was 3.6%.

We know that one in five UK adults (10.3 million people) have less than £100 in savings, one in ten have no savings at all and more than a quarter have less than £500. Many are one broken appliance away from slipping into debt.

Local authorities want to help families who are struggling now to avoid a crisis down the line yet they have little or no visibility over people who are not already claiming benefits. Now though, analysis of other datasets can be used to get a clearer picture of families who are just about managing.

Join this webinar to learn:

- Who is just about managing now but at risk in the future due to the rising cost of living
- Which datasets can be used to identify families in danger of debt
- How local authorities can target support to avert crisis
21/9/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
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