Coun­cils must act to com­bat des­ti­tu­tion

The Guardian - - LETTERS -

Lo­cal wel­fare as­sis­tance schemes are a vi­tal life­line for peo­ple who find them­selves in a cri­sis and with­out ba­sic es­sen­tials, such as food, elec­tric­ity, or a work­ing oven. It is there­fore very wor­ry­ing that most of these schemes have been cut back con­sid­er­ably in re­cent years and that 26 lo­cal coun­cils have now closed them al­to­gether, in­clud­ing in many ar­eas that we rep­re­sent (English coun­cils’ lo­cal wel­fare schemes in ‘melt­down’, 12 Septem­ber).

The Grenfell Tower dis­as­ter ex­posed fail­ings in the lo­cal author­ity’s re­sponse to a large-scale emer­gency. The sto­ries in the re­port by the Cen­tre for Re­spon­si­ble Credit demon­strate the hu­man cost of fail­ing to re­spond to the smaller-scale emer­gen­cies that hit count­less in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies every day, due to ill-health, the loss of a job, the break­down of a re­la­tion­ship, or a spell of home­less­ness.

Food banks, Cit­i­zens Ad­vice of­fices, and other vol­un­tary sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions play an im­por­tant role in sup­port­ing peo­ple in cri­sis, but they are un­der enor­mous pres­sure due to ris­ing de­mand and fund­ing cuts. This re­spon­si­bil­ity must be shared with cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, who have a moral duty to en­sure there is an ad­e­quate safety net to stop peo­ple from be­com­ing des­ti­tute. Paul But­ler Bishop of Durham Pete Broad­bent Bishop of Willes­den and act­ing bishop of Lon­don Alan Smith Bishop of St Al­bans Christo­pher Fos­ter Bishop of Portsmouth Stephen Cot­trell Bishop of Chelms­ford Mar­tyn Snow Bishop of Le­ices­ter Michael Ip­grave Bishop of Lich­field • To Grenfell cam­paigner Ed­ward Daf­farn’s list of repa­ra­tions by the Royal Bor­ough of Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea (Grenfell cam­paigner calls for re­turn of lo­cal as­sets as repa­ra­tion, 13 Septem­ber) – the re­turn of the li­brary, the adult ed­u­ca­tion col­lege and the sta­bles to the com­mu­nity – should be added a re­place­ment of the renowned Max­illa nurs­ery and un­der-fives’ school un­der the West­way which served Grenfell Tower fam­i­lies un­til closed by the RBKC – closed on the watch of coun­cil­lor El­iz­a­beth Camp­bell, the new leader of the coun­cil. Neil Ferguson Lon­don

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