SUPPORTING RESIDENTS EFFECTIVELY
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets was hit hard by COVID-19. Their infection rates were one of the highest in the country, meaning self-isolation would have a devastating impact for those on low incomes.
We already administered the council’s Resident Support Scheme, which offers financial help to people in crisis. And this end to end service – taking applications, assessing eligibility and getting the right help delivered – proved crucial in the pandemic.
“If residents qualify for support, we should give it to them fast. But by 2017 it was getting hard to achieve that in-house while achieving the best value for money, which is why we asked for NEC’s help. I’m so pleased we did, because it gave us the flexibility to respond to something no one saw coming.”
TAKING A LONGER-TERM APPROACH
From November 2021, we’ll also be supporting the council with their longer-term poverty reduction goals. When someone applies for a grant through the Resident Support Scheme, we’ll check eligibility for all other benefits and even make applications on their behalf.
“Asking NEC to manage self-isolation payments was a no-brainer,” says Ellie. “We’ve paid out more than £1.7m of payments, and I can’t imagine how we’d have done that in-house. I’m not tied to certain volumes either. When demand fluctuates I can dial the support up or down within days.”
RESPONDING QUICKLY TO COVID-19
Even before the government released extra funding, Tower Hamlets took fast action. They asked us to amend their support scheme criteria and allow multiple claims, leading to a 50% increase in applications.
Then in August 2020, they got four weeks notice of the new £500 self-isolation payments. As an inner-London borough facing high volumes of claims, Ellie believes it would have been almost impossible to manage on their own:
Since October 2021, we’re also processing applications for the government’s Household Support Grant, which can be used for food, fuel and clothing.
“Crisis grants can often be the first time people ask for help,” says Ellie, “so we’re hoping this will help break the spiral.”
“We want to get the right support to residents quickly, and that’s why we work with NEC. They give us the flexibility we need to respond fast to new challenges.”