Council axes vital welfare rights service with no consultation

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The council cuts keep coming, as now an advice team for the poor and disabled has been deemed not to be ‘an essential service’. By STEVEN DOWNES

No benefit: council insiders have been left ‘speechless’ by the latest cuts

Thousands of Croydon’s poorest and most vulnerable seem certain to be hit by the latest cut-back at the cash-strapped council, after the decision to close down the welfare rights team.

Council staffers say they have been left “speechless” by the randomness and seemingly arbitrary nature of this latest cut.

This council team has been providing comprehensive advice and support to residents for more than 25 years. The small department provided a drop-in service (pre-covid), plus helplines for a range of common issues, including benefits claims, debt management, jobs and training.

It has been estimated that the welfare rights team helped Croydon residents to make claims to access more than £10million per year in benefits to which they are entitled.

But according to one council insider, “It has been deemed to be a non-essential service.”

They and colleagues are obviously shocked. “I’m just speechless.”

There are well-founded fears that the removal of the welfare rights advice service will see Citizens Advice Croydon and the Croydon law centre swamped with callers who are no longer able to seek help from a dedicated council team.

“No public consultation has taken place on this cut to services nor any research to see if the one Citizens Advice service centre and the law centre in the borough can cope with the massively increased demand there will be for their services,” said the source.

“Unemployment is already high in the borough, with the high street struggling badly following the collapse of the Westfield deal and the last year’s covid closures.

“The welfare rights team have consistently supported residents to access more than £10million pounds in benefits and grants each year. This supports the council’s revenue directly as the majority of this include rent and Council Tax support.

“Thousands of disabled and vulnerable residents are going to miss out, which will also impact on financial assessments for care charges.”

The closure of the welfare rights advice service follows the news that the council is to scrap its home care support equipment business. One of the first cuts that the council announced, last September,  as it nose-dived into bankruptcy was a 20 per cent cut to the adult services budget.

Inside Croydon approached both Citizens Advice and the Croydon law centre, but neither were available for comment by the time of publication.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Council axes vital welfare rights service with no consultation

  1. It’s very sad to see the Borough shrivel away into such an empty and uncaring husk of a local authority, only able to do the very bare minimum to stay alive and functioning.

    You can’t really blame the present incumbents, well, perhaps some of them , but what they are having to cope with is the malignant and shameful legacy left by all the previous senior elected post holders.

    Will they ever be held to account? Don’t hold your breath.

    Will they ever acknowledge that they were useless? Don’t hold your breath.

  2. Sue Lamb says:

    This team helped so many families. Carole Webster was amazing and totally professional at her job at was the team. yet again again this is a short-sighted move by Croydon Council and it will cost them more over time in the long run and affect thousands of families when they need the help the most.

  3. Stephen Attfield says:

    it beggers belief. if this was a joke, it would be a very sick one !!!!!

  4. What seems to be happening is a dumbing down and a grinding down of people who will increasingly need help, jobs and recreation as we (hopefully) crawl out of everything that the COVID virus has wrought. With the end of furlough will also come the end of rent protection and people will need help with welfare rights more than ever. I also note that Library services will also be cut by half a million pounds. None of the three options are good, with staffing cuts of between 25% and 40%. At the same time it is being dressed up as an increase in opening hours via automated ‘self service’. I’m sure local people would prefer to see local branches remain open instead. We’ve had enough of imaginative wheezes such as Open+ technology and buying up hotels. What about cutting Councillor’s pay and allowances but those amounts instead? Some of those got us into this mess and others didn’t bother to stand up to ruling clique ought to help out by paying the price of folly.

  5. Lancaster says:

    Sadly teams and services are axed without even meaningful internal audits. Frequently a teams own chief officer is ignorant to their own teams portfolios, achievements and value to the organisation but more importantly the residents. Internal mantra is propagated about income generation and value for money, and senior management have no grasp of either for their teams. The internal financial systems are so poor that auditing a service and what it truly costs is impossible; yes that would be ‘One Oracle’ and ‘My Resources’, systems barely one step on from DOS.

    You can bet they did not ask other council services what impact this loss would have on their functions; oh, but we are ‘One Team’, and ‘Joined Up Working’ ! More corporate bull-speak.

    Would be interesting to see what impact assessment has been done internally and externally.

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