NPS to run £8.4m fund for vulnerable people in Wales for third year

14 May 2015

Northgate Public Services (NPS) is to manage an £8.4 million government fund, set up to help vulnerable people in need in Wales with payments and support in kind, after being chosen to run the Welsh Discretionary Assistance Fund for the third year.

Already NPS has delivered over £14million in assistance over the first two years of the Welsh Government’s scheme. Now the Welsh Discretionary Assistance Fund, which is entirely grant based, is offering the fund of £8.4 million in its third year of operation to support and address the needs of applicants.

The aim of the fund is to make available payments or support in kind, offering urgent assistance to people where there is an identified need to safeguard their health and wellbeing. It is intended to help those in particular who are vulnerable and financially excluded. The fund, which can be accessed to help people to live independently, offers wide ranging assistance, from money for food in emergencies to supplying goods such as refrigerators and washing machines.  

In the first 24 months of the scheme, over 270,000 calls have been received and over 91,000 applications processed. Having applied the criteria set out by Welsh Government, over 58,000 applications (67%) have been approved over this period, with payments made to vulnerable individuals or families. Those not awarded were signposted to other agencies for alternative advice or support.

The awards ranged from small cash payments for emergencies, up to higher value household goods for individuals and families moving into independent living. 

Payments from the fund will only be made available to people who have no other means of meeting the immediate cost of living. It is not intended that the fund meets the cost of ongoing expenses.

NPS, whose support for the third year began in April 2015, has delivered the Welsh Discretionary Assistance Fund on behalf of the Welsh Government since 1 April 2013. At that time, changes in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, meant that certain elements of the Social Fund scheme were abolished and replaced by new locally based provision. NPS is managing the scheme from NPS Welsh regional business hub in Wrexham, under contract to the Welsh Government, working in partnership with Family Fund Trading and Wrexham County Borough Council.

Lesley Griffiths , Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, commented: “The stresses and strains caused by serious money worries can have a devastating impact on people’s health and mental wellbeing and can even lead to the breakdown of families.

“This is why we have provided funding of almost £8.4m to help vulnerable people across Wales when they need it most. We are pleased to work with Northgate Public Services and partners to deliver this vital assistance right across the country.”

David Meaden, Chief Executive Officer,  Northgate Public Services, said: “We are delighted to be able to continue to assist vulnerable people in Wales and that already so many have benefited from this fund. We have managed to provide a whole range of help, from money for food or energy in emergencies to supplying household essentials, to help people stay in their community or to live more independently. 

“The positive impact of this fund has been huge and included helping a father to meet his travel costs to take his son with leukaemia to hospital, while waiting for DWP benefits to come. We have also helped a woman with four children set up in a new home after fleeing domestic violence. We hope to aid many more individuals over the coming months, working alongside our partners to make a real difference to lives.”

NPS Wrexham Business Centre is managing the scheme, contributing to job retention and employment opportunities in the area, as NPS continues to run the DAF for its third year.