Welfare Reform: Building Resilience




In the context of diminishing resources and increasing demand on services resultant from the impact of Welfare Reform and the retrenchment of public services this proposal seeks to mobilise resources across the Darlington Partnership and wider community ensuring that everyone is pulling together to mitigate the impact of Welfare Reform on individuals, families and communities and on organisations in terms of reducing the demand and therefore costs on already stretched services.


The proposal has the following objectives:

  1. To maximize the collective resources of the Darlington Partnership and all sectors in responding to and mitigating the impacts of Welfare Reform. 
  1. To build capacity and resilience within communities and individuals so that they can prepare for and adapt to the realities of Welfare Reform. 
  1. To understand the likely demand on key services including advice, welfare, and advocacy and identify current and potential gaps in provision. 
  1. To mobilise community action and volunteer development and recruitment to identified gaps



 The proposal is designed support the ONE DARLINGTON priority of the Darlington Partnership and to support the priorities for collective action as identified within the Health and Well Being Strategy:

  1. To relentlessly focus on narrowing the outcomes gap between individuals, groups and neighbourhoods; 
  1. To mitigate the impacts of child poverty, the economic downturn, public expenditure cuts and welfare reform on the community and wider economy promoting decent standards of living; 
  1. To develop community capacity/resilience, support networks and community led and controlled interventions and projects; 
  1. To utilise population insight and intelligence to better target key messages and programmes of action; 
  1. To strengthen the role of early intervention and prevention in mitigating harm and reducing costs.



The project will develop and build capacity along a continuum of need and focus on the following priorities:

  • General and targeted awareness raising initiatives
  • Signposting and self-help resources
  • Financial inclusion/capability and household budget management
  • Digital Inclusion including access to online benefit applications
  • Crisis support
  • Specialist support, advice and advocacy 


The following initial products have been identified:

  1. Prepare and deliver a co-ordinated multi-agency communication plan across the borough with targeted messages to specific partners, vulnerable groups, geographical areas and employers.
  1. Develop a suite of partnership materials that can be used to brief front line staff, professionals and volunteers on welfare reform and to raise awareness of its implications.
  2. Map existing financial support, debt advice and advocacy services together with other services that can mitigate the impact of Welfare Reform, including crisis support. 
  1. Identify key gateways to services and develop and introduce streamlined referral processes and protocols between services. 
  1. Maximize capacity of advice and financial capability services by investigating opportunities to introduce shared appointment booking systems. 
  1. Assess current and model future capacity of mapped services in light of predicated demand. 
  1. Identify potential gaps in provision and capacity of mapped provision and identify priorities for new and enhanced provision. 
  1. Linked to the above develop a volunteer recruitment, retention, development and placement strategy to fill gaps and support the development of enhanced provision. 
  1. Develop a training model to build capacity and skills in the delivery of triage, general advice, financial capability education and enhanced specialist debt and welfare advice. 
  1. Develop and deliver a Digital Inclusion Strategy and network of digital champions to facilitate access to online benefit applications, other advice and money management tools and other services and resources more generally. 
  1. Develop a partnership response to reducing fuel poverty and maximising energy efficiency including options for collective switching. 
  1. Develop a partnership response to improving financial literacy and capability by:
  • raising the financial knowledge and competencies of all individuals and families;
  • increasing the numbers of vulnerable individuals accessing affordable and manageable financial services;
  •  reducing the numbers falling into and currently in debt;
  • and improving service provision to individuals and families, particularly those who are most vulnerable, at transitional periods in their life. 
  1. Develop a suite of performance measures to monitor the impact of welfare reform including cost avoidance and demand reduction metrics and tie into regional work in this area.


 The development and delivery of each product will be aligned to the One Darlington Group’s recently defined priorities with a series of task and finish groups established under each:

  1. Developing community and individual resilience
  2. Welfare Reform & Financial Inclusion

A stakeholder meeting has been convened on 27th February 2013 to build consensus on the key products, agree and allocate the task and finish groups and outline key actions for each.


 Darlington Cares – Opportunity to align employer-led activity through Darlington Cares with strategically identified need for volunteering and service development.

Community Support Network Opportunity exists to focus social capital mapping on Welfare Reform and to identify community connectors to develop local capacity and resilience within communities. Additional value/capacity can be made by making the appropriate links with the Community Workstream of the Darlington Partnership.

 Reaching Communities Programme – The Morrison Trust in partnership with Darlington Credit Union have recently been successful in securing funding of £300,000 from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities Programme which includes financial coaching workshops for individuals vulnerable to debt and to using loan-sharks and doorstep lenders.



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