Investing in Volunteers

2016 is a busy year for Z2K, quality standard wise that is. As well as going through our AQS assessment, Z2K is also currently undergoing  the renewal of it’s Investing in Volunteers quality standard. Investing in Volunteers is a quality standard for good practice in volunteer management. We were initially awarded this 3 years ago, when my predecessor Henu was the volunteer manager, and I myself was a volunteer. Continue reading

Assessing our casework service

Z2K has been developing and refining its casework services over several years. A couple of years ago we applied for funding from City Bridge Trust and were told we were not eligible unless we had a quality mark for our advice services.  The relevant mark for our sorts of services is the Advice Quality Standard which has been set up by the Advice Services Alliance. Continue reading

Introducing the Stepping Stones project

Welfare Reform LogoStepping Stones is a new advice project delivered by Z2K and South West London Law Centres as part of the Big Lottery’s Help Through Crisis Fund. The aim of the project is to identify families and individuals who are in crisis – whether through a benefit sanction, a housing problem, the benefit cap or as a result of any other aspect of the benefits system – and help them to take steps to avoid falling back into crisis in future. Continue reading

Latest Benefit Cap statistics published

dwpDWP’s quarterly statistics last week showing that 20,000 households are still impacted by the government’s Benefit Cap is grim reading for anyone but the architects of this pernicious policy.

Numerous of these statistics should give cause for concern: 94 per cent of claimants hit by the cap are families with children; two-thirds of those hit are single-parent families and 78 per cent of those have a child under five years-old (17 per cent have a child under 12 months). But the figure that best reveals the distance between the government’s claims and the reality of the cap is that just 15 per cent of those hit by it are in receipt of Job Seekers Allowance i.e. required to be looking for work. The rest are in receipt of Employment Support Allowance, Income Support, Carer’s Allowance or another benefit. Continue reading

Ealing councillors who voted to cut support in Council Tax arrears

PercevalHouseGet West London’s revelation  that three of the councillors who attended the meeting to decide whether Ealing cut its local Council Tax Support scheme were themselves in Council Tax arrears at the time is deeply shocking. The council spokesman’s claim this wasn’t illegal may be true. However, I have no doubt the involvement of these councillors in that meeting will leave a bad taste in the mouth of those of the disabled people and single parents with very young children who have been hit by the increased charges it decided upon.

This is not the first time Ealing councillors have played fast and loose with the borough’s Council Tax Support scheme. The Cabinet’s original increase  in charges to unemployed residents was done by the back door without any public consultation. And the meeting to decide upon these latest cuts was itself scheduled at very short notice after the Overview & Scrutiny Committee rejected the Lib Dem Group’s “call-in” of the Cabinet’s proposed increased charges. It was no great surprise either that the Mayor refused to allow a petition of hundreds of local residents to be presented at the meeting before councillors made up their mind. Continue reading