13:11 Monday 27 January 2014

Council chiefs hit back at MP's fund concerns

Written byROB SMYTH

Tory Party Chairman - Grant Shapps visiting the Burton Mail..MP Andrew Griffiths Tory Party Chairman - Grant Shapps visiting the Burton Mail..MP Andrew Griffiths

COUNCIL chiefs have insisted they are trying to raise awareness of a crisis fund scheme – after Burton’s MP outlined ‘deep concerns’ about the amount of cash allocated to people in need.

Bosses at Staffordshire County Council told the Mail that they were working to ‘raise awareness’ of the crisis support scheme after Andrew Griffiths disclosed figures that only a small amount – £43,532.30 – had been dished out from the total figure of £1.475 million handed down by the government.

Council bosses insisted work was being done to get more people to apply for the cash but also stressed that every applicant so far had been successful.

Mark Sutton, cabinet member for public health and community safety, said: “The scheme now provides furniture, white goods, food packs and clothing to people who face a major unexpected change to their lives, rather than a cash amount and is one of a number of support options available to people depending on their circumstances.

“In Staffordshire, every person who has applied, and was eligible for support from the scheme, received food parcels within 12 hours and other goods within three days.

“The difference in the number of applications compared to the previous cash award scheme operated by the Department for Work and Pensions is reflected nationally and in Staffordshire we are working with partners to raise awareness of the new scheme to ensure those who are eligible for support apply and receive the help they need.”

Andrew Griffiths told the Mail: “I am deeply concerned at these figures, especially as they come at a time when people are struggling to cope and are reliant on services such as the food banks.

“It is simply not acceptable that so little of the money has been allocated and I have written to the council chief executive in a bid to try to get more help to those who need it.”

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