Regardless of your political persuasion, our evidence suggests that demand for our services has increased as a direct result of the issues surrounding Brexit, and the time this has taken away from looking for solutions to the other issues facing the UK. In fact, in the last quarter of 2018 applications for grants increased by 40% year-on-year and there was a 12% rise in calls to our helpline. People are worried.
We are seeing an increased demand from applicants who have applied for Universal Credit, most facing weeks of uncertainty before receiving a payment. This leaves us wondering….. How can we help more people more quickly?
One practical thing we can do is to simplify the criteria around who is eligible for our help, which is why we have tweaked our eligibility criteria.
From now, to be considered for our help, you must either be working in the industry right now, or have worked in the industry for at least five years in your entire career. This replaces ‘Worked within the industry for either one continuous year in the past five; for seven years in their lifetime’ criteria which was both confusing some applicants and taking up vast amounts of time for our caseworkers to verify.
It might not sound much, but this simple change will enable us to more quickly respond to grant applications from people whose need is even more pressing than ever due to the current situation.
Of course, any change like this can’t just be implemented over night, so any grant application already received that qualified under the old criteria will still be processed.
New analysis on foodbank use, in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, has highlighted how being in work does not guarantee that you will have enough to get by. Applications for Hospitality Action’s grants are up 6% on this time last year and we are seeing increasing requests from people in work in crisis.
Our Winter Fuel Grant scheme for working people on low incomes helps ensure that people don’t have to choose between food and fuel. With the recent bad weather many people may have been worried about turning on the heat due to the cost. The grants are for £100 and applicants just need to demonstrate that they are on a limited income, have little or no savings and have a fuel bill to pay. If you or anyone you know will struggle with your winter fuel then the short WFG application form can be found here. We can accept applications until the end of March and so don’t delay. After this date help can be offered through our main grants programme.
Through our Essential Needs Grants we help with a huge variety of needs. Last week we helped Ms W who needed to equip a new home after fleeing an abusive partner, she and her children were without a working washing machine and fridge-freezer which we were apply to provide along with some furniture for the children’s bedrooms to make their house feel more like a home.
For many in our industry company sick pay is not part of their benefits package. The drop in income caused by only receiving Statutory Sick Pay of £89.35/week should they need time off due to ill health puts people in the impossible position of choosing which essential bill to pay; rent, fuel, food. This week we helped Mr & Mrs T; Mrs T is recovering from cancer and is back at work early as she could no longer afford to be off. We helped with some essential bills and they also received our Winter Fuel Grant.
To find out more about our grants programmes and to access our application form, please visit our website or call our grants team on 020 3004 5500.