"This reports highlights some of the significant pressures being faced by low-income households up and down the country."
Responding to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on Destitution, revealing that 1.5 million people in the UK face destitution, Cllr Nick Forbes, Senior Vice-Chair of the Local Government Association, said:
“This reports highlights some of the significant pressures being faced by low-income households up and down the country.
“Councils target services to help those in need of support and prevent them reaching crisis point but this is becoming increasingly challenging against a backdrop of welfare reforms and an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020. The Government needs to restore funding to councils for welfare assistance schemes so they can provide the local safety net to help those struggling to cope with welfare reforms, including the roll out of Universal Credit.
“Councils also need be able to do more to support low income households to increase their income from employment and access genuinely suitable and affordable housing. This can be achieved through a more devolved and integrated approach to employment and skills, and for closer partnership working between job centres and councils.
“It is not right that councils are having to house many of those who have been unable to cope with the reductions in housing benefit in expensive, unsatisfactory temporary accommodation because of the lack of affordable housing. Local authorities are currently housing more than 77,000 homeless families with in excess of 120,000 homeless children in temporary accommodation. Councils need to be able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.
“The LGA is working with councils, the Centre for Responsible Credit and Money Advice Service to help improve local commissioning of financial support and debt advice and, alongside the Citizens Advice Bureau, has developed a joint Council Tax Protocol to support good practice in debt collection.”