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London boroughs "uncoordinated" on welfare reform

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An alleged lack of co-ordination among London boroughs will hamper their efforts to help residents weather the impact of the government’s controversial welfare reforms, new research claims.

The report Between a rock and a hard place: the early impacts of reform on London, by lobby group Child Poverty Action Group and advice consultancy Lasa, describes researchers as “struck” by the “little obvious coordination” in the capital’s councils’ response to the roll out of the welfare changes, many of which will hit London residents the hardest

“During the course of the research for this report we were struck as to how little obvious co-ordination there appears to be across London to the whole package of welfare reform.”

Meetings organised by umbrella group London Councils had not established a way for frontline advices services or networks to hook up, the report states.

“Similarly, while the Mayor of London’s office delivers some targeted work around benefit take-up and related issues such as fuel poverty every year, we have not found any activity to coordinate the response of local authorities at a regional level within City Hall,” it adds.

“This is particularly surprising in light of the Mayor’s responsibility for strategies on employment and skills, health, housing and young people.”

The researchers strongly urged both the London Mayor and London Councils “to create and coordinate a strategic level of engagement”  between themselves and other agencies such as the London Advice Forum, London Child Poverty Alliance, advice networks, health services and pan-London homelessness services.

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