Just £325,000 spent on help for county’s most desperate

County Hall: Lancashire County Council has been running the scheme since April
County Hall: Lancashire County Council has been running the scheme since April
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More than £2.5m designed to help Lancashire’s most needy people is still lying in the bank.

Bosses at county hall have spent just £352,685 out of a crisis fund to help vulnerable people across the county in a six-month period, new figures reveal.

Lancashire County Council took over responsibilty of the care and urgent needs support scheme in April and allocated £2.937m to help those in need.

But, between April and September, it has helped only 3,000 people deemed in need of urgent financial assistance.

The figures were revealed through a Freedom of Information request.

Responsibility for the cash pot was previously held by the Department of Work and Pensions.

The scheme is delivered by One Connect Ltd at an annual charge of £592,777 – £240,000 more than has actually been doled out to the desperate.

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: “It’s still early days for the new scheme, which we took over from the Department for Work and Pensions in April last year.

“Since then we have made more than 3,000 awards, with 80 per cent of applications being successful as opposed to only 50 per cent under the old scheme, which the DWP had run for the past 25 years.

“We are keen to raise awareness of the scheme and to encourage more applications from vulnerable people in need of urgent financial help or support.”

The spokesman added: “As things stand, unspent money for the scheme is not taken back at the end of the financial year, so we are looking at other ways to use any surplus funds to help support the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

The scheme is aimed at tackling two types of need.

The first is urgent needs arising from some form of crisis where people may, for example, need short-term help to buy food or pay for gas and electricity

And the second is practical needs related to personal care, for example where people are coming out of care or hospital and need urgent help to buy such essential household items as bedding, cookers, fridges or microwaves.

Wherever possible, cash payments are avoided and awards are made in the form of goods. To apply for help call 0845 053 0015.