Politicians praise impact of emergency welfare fund

A team based in Wrexham that offers invaluable support to some of the most vulnerable people in Wales has been praised by local politicians.

Members of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths and Ken Skates recently visited the Discretionary Assistance Fund headquarters based on the Wrexham Industrial Estate to hear more about their lifechanging work.

The Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) is a Welsh Government initiative that provides urgent grants to people who have nowhere else to turn.  The nationwide service is managed by NEC and administered by the team in Wrexham, who work with more than 600 partner organisations.

There are two types of grants – the Emergency Assistance Payment helps in an emergency or when there is an immediate threat to health or wellbeing.  It can help cover essential costs such as food, gas, electricity or emergency travel and people are eligible if they are experiencing extreme financial hardship, have lost their job or are awaiting a first benefit payment.

The Individual Assistance Payment helps people to remain or begin living independently and will cover the cost of home furniture or ‘white goods’ such as a fridge, cooker or washing machine.

With people facing extra financial pressures, the pandemic has seen people across Wales turning to the Discretionary Assistance Fund for help.  The Welsh Government responded by outlining an additional £25.4m of financial support during the pandemic.

Wrexham’s Member of the Senedd, Lesley Griffiths said: “After speaking with members of the team in Wrexham, it is crystal clear there is a need for a welfare fund like the DAF.  An increasing number of clients contacting the service are in work yet struggling financially.

“The Fund’s efficiency and flexibility often make all the difference.  The speed in which the team in Wrexham can respond and offer support to those in need can help turn people’s lives around.”

Ken Skates, Member of the Senedd for Clwyd South commented: “This is a critical time for many local families as we start to look beyond the pandemic.  Rising fuel prices, coupled with the controversial UK Government decisions to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift and increase national insurance taxes will result in further financial hardship for many residents.

“More and more people are feeling the squeeze and I am pleased the Welsh Government hasn’t abandoned those most in need and continues to support the Discretionary Assistance Fund.”

In addition to providing a valuable service to people across Wales, the Discretionary Assistance Fund also provides job opportunities to local people.  Approximately 50 people work in the Wrexham office and the organisation recently hired 4 apprentices.

Lesley Griffiths MS added: “There is such a wide range of careers accessible thanks to apprenticeships and it was a pleasure to speak to Lauren, Bethan and Ella to hear more about their experiences.  I wish them the best of luck for the future.”