Add your voice to the welfare reform debate

At the Evolve summit on Monday, I will be asking delegates about their organisations’ experience of the coalition government’s current programme of welfare reforms. We want to know whether the reforms have affected your beneficiaries and if so, how. We also want to hear whether you have made any changes to the services you provide in response.

If you want to feed into the project you can find me at the registration desk throughout the day.

Emerging trends

I will be using your feedback to add to our growing evidence base on the impact of the reforms on people and communities as well as the VCOs that support them, eg on their resources and activities.

The clearest message we have heard so far is that VCOs are seeing an increase in their welfare-related caseload. For some this is because each client requires a greater amount of support, or simply because more people are coming through their doors. For example, a national advice and financial assistance charity reported that that their client base is growing as more people in work but on low pay seek help to navigate the changes to the Local Housing Allowance and Council Tax Benefits.

For other organisations, while the number of people they are seeing hasn’t increased, they are spending a greater proportion of their time supporting welfare claimants.  For example, a medium-sized charity offering support to adults with severe and enduring mental illness, stated that:

“over 50% of our time is now spent writing letters to the DWP before assessments, providing supporting evidence for appeals and tribunals, liaising with support workers, and accompanying to appointments…Before the welfare reforms we would have expected this to have occupied approximately 25% of our time”.

How are organisations adapting?

As the demands of their client base are changing, so VCOs are adapting. For instance, some organisations have looked for funding in order to better support clients affected by the reforms, such as recruiting dedicated benefits and debt advisors, or setting up ‘triage’ services.  In other cases, organisations are reportedly becoming more reliant on volunteers: a small organisation offering support to refugees, migrants and ethnic minorities, relies on paid members of staff giving extra voluntary hours, as well as their usual volunteers.

Not able to make it to Evolve?

We want as many organisations as possible to feed into our project. So, if you’re not able to make it to Evolve but would still like to offer your feedback, you can respond to our online call for evidence. Alternatively, you can get in contact with me via e-mail ( or call me on 020 7520 3172.

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Anjelica worked at NCVO researching the effects of welfare reforms on communities across England for NCVO. She is now senior policy officer at Charity Finance Group.

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