Horsham MP Francis Maude urged to join fight against scrapping of crisis fund

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

Horsham MP Francis Maude has been invited by the county council leader to meet her and discuss the Government’s decision to scrap a fund that provides emergency support to people in a short-term crisis.

West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith has written to Mr Maude asking him to visit charity Horsham Matters where as Minister for the Cabinet Office, he will be urged to persuade his cabinet colleagues to reverse the decision.

It was announced earlier this year by central Government that the Local Welfare Assistance Fund (LWAF), which is administered through the Local Assistance Network (LAN) in West Sussex, would be scrapped.

The network is made up of voluntary and community groups who try to meet urgent need by providing assistance in kind, such as furniture, vouchers for food banks or other household essentials.

In her letter Mrs Goldsmith invited Mr Maude to meet her and Horsham Matters’ chief executive David Sheldon to see the vital work the charity does through the LAN.

She said: “As you are aware West Sussex County Council is continually finding more savings and cutting our coat according to our cloth, but finding the additional £1.24 million at a time when resources are stretched within local authorities will be an additional pressure

“I believe this fund, in West Sussex, represents cracking good value for money. Its impact is substantial and outsourced to charities means minimal administration cost.

“As requests for help numbered more than 6,000 after its first year of operation, you can appreciate our concern.

“We do believe in helping people to help themselves and this is an excellent example, about which we all at West Sussex County Council feel so very strongly.

“So if you could help and support the county council on this issue I would be truly grateful.”

The letter follows the unanimous backing by all councillors of a Notice of Motion during a recent Full Council that expressed dismay at the Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the scheme and recognised the value of the work carried out by the West Sussex Local Assistance Network.

Last week Horsham District Council added its support for the continuation of the LWAF. Sue Rogers, cabinet member for a safer and healthier district, said the move would be bad news for some of the district’s most vulnerable residents.