Local Welfare Provision: A Local Jigsaw?

Our new research highlights the need for increased monitoring & security for Local Welfare Assistance Schemes

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The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 420 foodbanks in the UK, contacted foodbanks and Local Authorities in England in order to map provision of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes (LWAS) and share best practice, alongside identifying areas for improving service provision and interventions to reduce people experiencing financial crisis. Information from over 77 (24%) of foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network and 74 (21%) local authorities in England is included in the report.

A Local Jigsaw: A Study into Local Welfare Assistance Schemes and Foodbanks can be downloaded here.

Key findings:

  • Need for LWAS is substantial. Tens of thousands of people accessed LWAS in the last financial year and this is likely to be a very conservative estimate, as this does not include applications. Availability and access appears to be an issue in many cases.
  • Foodbank engagement with emergency welfare service provision is significant. Local authorities and foodbanks are being innovative and flexible in their approach to supporting local people who end up in a financial crisis but more needs to be done with regards to long-term strategy and budgeting.
  • Like foodbanks, local authorities have been investing in ways to address the underlying causes of people’s financial crisis and into making LWAS more sustainable in future. With further research, monitoring and evaluation, more appropriate, effective and efficient services can be developed and delivered through sharing knowledge, guidance, advice and benchmarking.
  • The continued rise in referrals to Trussell Trust foodbanks for emergency food since 2015 would suggest that the decrease in spending on LWAS is not due to a decrease in need. The insecurity around future LWAS provision is an annual concern for foodbanks and the communities they serve. A longer-term and more secure, funding structure would bring substantial relief and would also encourage improved monitoring and evaluation across the board.

These findings highlight the innovation and adaptation that exists among local welfare scheme providers. They also demonstrate a lack of benchmarking, guidelines, and monitoring or evaluation which means that it can be difficult to assess the impact of the schemes in the local context or to compare them in the national context and leads to a lack of research and development or long-term strategy around LWAS provision.

A clearer strategy from the Department for Communities and Local Government for coordinated monitoring and evaluation of services, increased sharing of best practice and official ring-fencing of LWAS funding would all help ensure that people are helped in the most effective and efficient way possible at a local level.

David McAuley, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust said,

“Our findings show there are many inspiring, innovative local projects run by public, private, and voluntary sector organisations designed to help local people in a crisis. However, delivery approaches vary and there is great need for the good work being done to be monitored and evaluated so that it can be shared and replicated.

“We welcome the positive approach to monitoring and evaluating policy implementation by the previous government, and hope to see it continue as this new government begins. We have scratched the surface and are calling for others to join us in exploring local welfare provision in more depth; to tackle hunger and poverty, charities, local government and central government all need to do more to identify good practice as well as gaps in the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, and to consider whether funding for such schemes is adequate to address local need. When people fall into a crisis there must be sustainable structures in place to help support people back onto their feet.”




Contact The Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]




The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • Trussell Trust foodbanks provide three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis in the UK, and many foodbanks offer free additional services, like money advice and budget cookery courses as part of the charity’s ‘More Than Food’ approach, to build resilience and help prevent people needing referral to a foodbank again. Foodbank volunteers are also trained to signpost people to other agencies and services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis.
  • Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a professional such as a social worker, health visitor or schools liaison officer. Over 30,000 frontline professionals refer people to Trussell Trust foodbanks, and 50 percent are statutory agencies.
  • Over 90 percent of food given out by Trussell Trust foodbanks is donated by the public. In 2016-17, 11,175 tonnes of food were given to people in crisis.
  • The Trussell Trust is a charity motivated by Christian principles. For more on The Trussell Trust visit www.trusselltrust.org