Local support and services to tackle worklessness as a source of poverty are described in the ‘Work and worklessness’ section of this JSNA chapter.
Hackney’s Child Poverty and Family Wellbeing Plan 2015-18 sets out an approach to tackling child poverty in Hackney (see Box 4). 1 It builds on the plan from 2012, which takes a dual approach to child poverty, both aiming to maximise income and tackle complex needs. 2 Progress was reviewed and the new plan maintains the priorities from 2012, but proposes a sharpening of focus in three areas:
- parental employment
- working with families with complex dependencies.
|The following six thematic priorities seek to maximise income while also tackling complex needs:
Hackney Council also fund a number of advice services for people in disadvantaged circumstances through a community grants scheme (see Box 5). 3
In addition, Hackney Council is funding a pilot project delivering advice specifically to young people who tend not to access traditional advice services. The pilot is setting up surgeries at Young HackneyA hubs and youth hubs run by Hackney Marsh Partnership in Homerton and Stoke Newington, jointly working with Daymer to encourage young people from the Turkish/Kurdish community to also engage. Advice covers all areas, including welfare benefits, housing, debt, employment, immigration, and crisis support, as well as being able to refer to legal specialists if required. As part of the pilot, there is also an outreach programme to raise awareness of the service at other youth settings including schools and faith groups.
|The Social Welfare Advice grants fund high quality, independent services that provide advice on all areas of social welfare law and support residents to understand their rights and responsibilities; access their entitlements; manage and resolve their problems; and build their capabilities. The advice service is delivered by a range of voluntary sector organisations and provides open access across Hackney. There is additional focus on the advice needs of young people, older people, disabled residents and residents with mental health issues. Specific funded services include the following.
The grant scheme funds the Advice in Hackney website – a directory of advice providers in the borough, which also includes information about free training courses funded by ‘the Sustainable Advice in Hackney’ project (to help local advisors and volunteers keep up-to-date with changes to the law or new government regulations affecting their clients). 4
|This programme is a partnership project between the Big Lottery Fund, Citizens Advice East End and 10 local housing associations (including Hackney Housing). It helps residents improve their financial confidence so they can budget, manage money better and learn how to plan ahead by developing personal action plans.
In 2015, the programme helped 1,262 people in Hackney to increase their incomes by a total of £600,000 since starting in 2013. In follow-up surveys, 98% of people using Hackney Money Smart stated they feel better following the first appointment, and 81% strongly agree that they will be able to make more informed decisions about their finances. Some anecdotal comments include:
“My health is much better compared to when I first arrived, especially my high blood pressure. Thank you very much for your advice.”
“Excellent customer service and a good humanitarian feeling for everyone.”
“I can now sleep stress and depression free.”
Case study 1: Simon*
Simon is a single, disabled, retired man, living in rented accommodation, who came to Hackney Money Smart for help with rent arrears of £2500 and threat of eviction. He was receiving retirement pension of £52 per week following separation from his wife. He had not previously been entitled to any extra help as his wife was working. Following the separation, he did not know what to do or what benefits he could claim. This led to increasing rent and council tax arrears.
Simon saw Fred, a financial inclusion officer on the project, who helped him with advice and advocacy to deal with the rent and council tax arrears, and worked with Simon on his budgeting, money management and overall income maximisation. Fred helped Simon to claim pension credit (£100 per week), Housing Benefit (£111 per week), council tax reduction and attendance allowance (£55 per week). Pension credit was backdated for three months, and Simon used this backdated sum towards paying off his rent arrears. Fred also helped Simon with making a repayment arrangement with his landlord to pay off the remaining rent arrears (at a rate of £3.75 per week) and lifted the threat of eviction. Fred also helped Simon to access additional support from his landlord due to his age and disability. Following his work with the project, Simon said he felt more confident to budget and manage his money and relieved that the threat of eviction had been lifted.
Case study 2: Jenny*
Jenny is a lone parent, with three children, who is employed part-time and living in rented accommodation. – She came to Hackney Money Smart following referral by the local authority benefit cap team. Jenny has recently increased her working hours from 10 to 20 hours per week, and was subject to the benefit cap.
Jenny saw Harvel, a financial inclusion officer on the project, who helped Jenny with information on budgeting, money management, saving on fuel, prioritising bills and reducing expenditure through shopping around. Harvel also helped Jenny with claiming Working Tax Credit and getting the benefit cap removed from her claim by the local authority benefit cap team. Jenny was entitled to additional tax credits of £72 per week in addition to her increased income through increased working hours. Jenny said she felt better able to manage her money following working with the project.
*names have been changed to ensure anonymity
The City of London’s Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) identifies four key areas of improvement: 5
- close the gap in outcomes for children, young people and families in vulnerable groups
- close the gap in outcomes for children, young people and families based on their localities
- improve physical and emotional health and wellbeing from conception to birth and throughout life
- ensure that young children are well prepared to achieve in adulthood, through high quality learning and development.
The City of London also runs a central grants programme, with specific funding streams around ‘stronger communities’ (which includes a focus on projects which tackle poverty) and ‘education and employment support’. In addition,
Toynbee Hall, in partnership with the Royal Court of Justice Advice Bureau (CAB), offer free advice services for people who live, work or study in the City of London. This City Advice Service provides targeted, free and impartial information and advice on a range of issues (such as debt, legal issues and employment rights) through drop in surgeries, an advice line and online resources and case work. 6 Key objectives for the service include:
- proactive awareness raising and education – targeted workshops, campaigns and events with particular cohorts to raise awareness of key issues
- enabling channel switch – capacity building with service users to become more confident in using other channels (e.g. online) of advice and self-help, where appropriate
- community ambassadors – to raise awareness of key issues among the community, and help direct people in need to the service.
Finally, Welfare Reform Working Groups have been established in both Hackney and the City of London. These working groups bring together a range of services and partner organisations to ensure a robust and coordinated local response to help mitigate the negative impacts of welfare reforms on affected residents. Figure 14 provides an overview of the key aims and areas of activity of the Hackney Welfare Reform Working Group.
Figure 14: Hackney’s Welfare Reform Working Group action plan
- A service for all young people aged 6-19 which runs in five youth centres. They offer activities, advice and guidance on subjects such as employment and health.
- Hackney Council, “Hackney’s Child Poverty and Family Wellbeing Plan 2016-18,” 2016
- Hackney Council, “Child Poverty and Family Wellbeing Plan: April 2012,” 2012
- Hackney Council, “Community Grants,” [Online]. Available: http://www.hackney.gov.uk/community-grants. [Accessed September 2016].
- Hackney Council, “Advice in Hackney,” [Online]. Available: http://www.hackneyadvice.org.uk/. [Accessed September 2016]
- City of London Corporation, “Children and Young People’s Plan (CYPP) 2015-18,” undated
- Toynbee Hall, “For a future without poverty,” [Online]. Available: http://www.toynbeehall.org.uk/city-advice. [Accessed September 2016