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Universal Credit claimants helped by Slough Borough Council welfare scheme

Additional funding could be made available to help struggling families in the borough over the Christmas period.

At a Slough Borough Council (SBC) cabinet meeting on Monday, members heard a half yearly progress report on the council’s Local Welfare Provision Policy for vulnerable people.

The scheme, which many other local authorities have cut altogether, mainly provides vouchers for food and white goods, cash for energy bills and travel warrants for important appointments.

On January 22, cabinet agreed on a budget of £300,000, with £30,000 being set aside for administration costs.

A total of £122,911 has been spent in the first six months.

Councillors at the meeting at St Martins Place, Bath Road heard how many beneficiaries of the policy were waiting on payments under the Government’s Universal Credit benefit system or needed to repay the advance available under it.

In June, July, August and September, a total of 95 households on Universal Credit asked the council for help.

Requests for help with day-to-day living costs have coincided with an increase in Universal Credit claims.

Reflecting on the scheme, which can see people waiting up to five weeks for their first payments SBC cabinet member for health and social care Cllr Natasa Pantelic (Lab, Cippenham Meadows) said: “I think some people in Government really need to open their eyes.”

An extra £10,000 contingency fund will made available over the Christmas period if required.

SBC deputy leader Cllr Sabia Hussain (Lab, Central) said: “I’m quite concerned that Christmas is coming. December is a time where people often sink.”

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