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From the social fund to local welfare assistance: central-local government relations and 'special expenses'

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Public Policy and Administration
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)313-330
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date15/04/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In Britain since the 1930s social assistance recipients have in certain circumstances been able to claim ‘exceptional expenses’ in addition to their weekly benefit income. From the 1940s these were administered by its central government. However, in April 2013 the then incarnation of such payments (the discretionary Social Fund) was partly replaced by locally administered Local Welfare Assistance. Drawing upon material held in files at Britain's National Archives and central government documents framing the development of Local Welfare Assistance, this paper examines how concerns raised in the 1980s meant it was not possible to then transfer responsibility for ‘exceptional expenses’ from central to local government. The paper explores those concerns and how in contemporary Britain they are no longer deemed to be problematic because of the Coalition government's emphasis upon localism and because of changing local government views on the possibility of delivering a mainstream social assistance function.