Waste and social care: Making the link between re-use and welfare

Richard Featherstone, London Re-use Ltd’s development manager

by Richard Featherstone, development manager of London Re-use Ltd and life president of the Furniture Re-use Network.


I’ve recently returned from the FRN (Furniture Re-Use Network) conference in Nottingham.

A key issue was the pending demise of the Social Fund.

There was a consensus of opinion that the FRN and all its members must commit to lobbying for continuation of the Social Fund funds being provided by central government to local authorities beyond April 2015.

I think a way this could be negotiated with central government is by making a case for a continuation of a tapered off fund for a second year to April 2016. This gives the third sector and the social housing sector a chance to build an alternative means of provision.

This is a good time for the re-use sector to create and strengthen the links between re-use, now generally regarded as a growing service within local government waste management, and the increasing pressure on social care and welfare departments managing the Social Fund budget in possibly its final year.

The London Re-use network is well positioned to foresee changes and can grasp the responsibility to broker this deal of supply and demand.

The importance of re-use is realised when social needs are met, often alleviating a crisis. At one time, thinking about and implementing preventative measures was fine but, more recently, the prevailing mood is to spend public money only when absolutely necessary and often when it’s too late for a low cost option.

At the conference we talked about the resurgence of preventative services of which re-use can be counted as one. I hope we are coming to realise that spending in crises is more expensive than spending on prevention in the long run. For instance, it’s cheaper to put a fence at the top of the cliff than ambulances at the rocks below.

At London re-use network we don’t want re-use to be limited to social need: re-use should be for everyone. My next blog will show the different perspective.

At the FRN conference, the presentations were excellent, highly relevant and to a full house of delegates. It was yet another successful gathering of some of the best re-use experts around.

If you missed it this time, be sure to go next year because it really is value for money.


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