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Kent's Lib Dem councillors call for more action to help vulnerable people when they leave prison

December 21, 2018 10:44 AM

At last week's County Council meeting Lib Dems Trudy Dean and Ida Linfield gained the unanimous support of councillors for a motion calling for better support for prison leavers, many of whom are left desperate for food, warmth and a roof over their head.

Many ex-offeners leave prison with a discharge grant of just £46, a derisory sum which has not changed for over 20 years. Unless they have support from friends and family or they are able to return to paid employment, this is all they have to live on until they receive their first Universal Credit payment, which could take 5 weeks!

So it's no surprise that ex-offenders are heavily dependant on foodbanks. It's no surprise that many return to crime.

Click here to read the Kent Messenger report of the County Council debate.

The full text of the motion agreed with Kent's Conservative Administration was as follows:

"While the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 has taken steps to tackle the problem of ex-offenders having no accommodation, prisoners who are released following an incarceration period of over 14 days currently receive a discharge grant of just £46, which has not changed since 1997. If they are entitled to Universal Credit, the first payment will not be made until approximately 5 weeks* after the claim has been made. This leaves many discharged prisoners left to resort to food banks and increases the risk of them committing further crimes against Kent residents. In the event of the latter, it will also be Kent taxpayers left footing the bill when police resources need to be deployed.

"The council endorses the view that it is important for all statutory agencies to work together to support ex-offenders and to ensure they are appropriately housed, rehabilitated, their health and care needs are met, encouraged and supported to find employment and reunification with their families. Therefore, the Council calls for a time limited interim report as part of the work of the Housing Select Committee on how all the statutory agencies are working together in supporting subsistence for ex-offenders especially in the vital first weeks of release from prison."

*As stated by the Department for Work & Pensions