Hartlepool welfare chiefs approve overhaul of ‘crisis’ support for struggling families

Council chiefs are to adopt a new method of providing welfare support services to help benefit residents in need of “crisis” assistance.

By Nic Marko
Sunday, 26th June 2022, 4:55 am

Hartlepool Borough Council’s Local Welfare Support scheme had 2,651 requests for support in 2021/22, with 1,533 approved.

The service offers “crisis” support for residents hit by sudden unforeseen events and “non-crisis” aid for those setting up homes, such as those fleeing domestic abuse.

Council officers noted 21% of those accessing support were repeat customers, equating to 531 residents.

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The latest meeting of the council’s finance and policy committee approved continuing to the scheme in 2022/23, but under a new “hybrid model”.

Officers added the changes will see support provided by colleagues in the community sector, with the council focussing on the “nitty-gritty all-round support someone needs”.

Penny Thompson, head of housing, hardship and welfare services, said: “It is a crisis scheme, it’s not supposed to be a scheme that manages to try and alleviate ongoing financial hardship for residents of the town.”

Cllr Shane Moore, council leader, backed the changes, stating it would help provide “tailored support”.

He said: “We can actually get them out of that period of crisis and give them the assistance they require to be able to stay out of that.”

Ms Thompson added that under the existing scheme, behaviours from some clients to staff had become “extremely challenging”.

She added: “We’ve had, and continue to have, very, very difficult conversations with clients that come in.

“Some of it is linked to a dependency culture of people thinking they should be given something and then get very angry when they’re told they can’t have something.”