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York Financial Assistance Scheme pays out £89k in emergency grants
9:50am Tuesday 31st December 2013 in News
ALMOST 50 struggling York residents a week approached an emergency grant scheme for help in its the first seven months, new figures have revealed.
The York Financial Assistance Scheme (YFAS) was launched at the start of April to support the city’s most vulnerable residents.
A report to go before City of York Council’s cabinet next week said £89,154 had been paid out by the end of October, with 1,484 applications received.
The written report said 561 of these applications did not qualify for help, but 544 emergency grants – a last-resort option for residents who have incurred unexpected costs – and 122 community grants, helping people live independently, were agreed.
Of the money spent, £25,951.35 was for daily living allowances such as buying food, £34,220.06 was for “white” goods such as cookers, washing machines and fridges and £15,687.40 was for furniture.
More than two-thirds of applications were from single residents and 34 per cent from people who said their benefit payments had been delayed.
The scheme – initially funded by the Department of Work and Pensions – replaced Community Care Grants and crisis loans and was introduced as welfare changes came into force.
The council is providing £200,000 up to the end of 2014/15. All but 12 per cent of applications came from York’s most deprived communities and by mid-September 17 residents had appealed for help three times or more.
The council said the review identified areas where YFAS could be improved, including making eligibility criteria and the reasons for refusing a grant clearer.
Cabinet members will be asked to agree improvements to the scheme.
Coun Dafydd Williams, cabinet member for finance, performance and customer services, said: “Creating a scheme specific to York residents’ needs has allowed us to be more focused and efficient in delivering assistance to those who need it most.
“An improvement on the old service is exactly what we were hoping for, although there are always improvements to be made.
“After speaking to staff and residents, we are particularly looking to address the provision of a greater level of financial and benefits advice to residents.”
Grants are based on eligibility criteria and individual circumstances, and those applying must be receiving means-tested benefits.
The review found 84 per cent of recipients felt the grants met their needs.
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