Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme
What is the Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS)?
If you live in Cambridgeshire, and are eligible, CLAS can provide information, advice and one off practical support and assistance in times of exceptional pressure. Following an assessment, you may be eligible for a CLAS award.
To apply to the Scheme you must have lived in Cambridgeshire for at least six months, unless you have fled to the area for your own safety.
You must be facing hardship or under exceptional financial pressure. You must have no savings and receive one of the following means tested benefits:
- Income Support
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
If you are working, your total household must be below the HMRC low income threshold (£16,105 for 2017/18)
Information and Advice
Anyone enquiring about CLAS will be eligible for an initial triage – this is a conversation to find out more about your situation and work out what help would be best for you.
Contact your local Citizens Advice in Cambridgeshire – either Cambridge and District Citizens Advice Bureau or Citizens Advice Rural Cambridgeshire. They will arrange to meet with you to find out more or if you prefer they can talk through by phone. John Huntingdon’s Charity are also offering this service in the Sawston area.
Following this the worker will help identify what best meets your need and link you up to the relevant services including grant help if that is what is needed.
The Help in Crisis section on this website has been put together by the CLAS project. It includes a list of grant making trusts and Food Banks in the area which organisations can look into when accessing help for their clients.
How do I apply?
You cannot apply directly to this scheme – the application is made by a worker called a CLAS Champion. Champions are chosen for their experience and knowledge and ability to help people find the right solutions for their needs.
To find your local CLAS champion you can contact your local CAB in Cambridgeshire or if you rent from a housing association please ask if they can help.
If you live in the Sawston area you can enquire about CLAS at John Huntingdon’s Charity.
Here are the links to get in touch with a CLAS champion:
Cambridge City and South
Rural Cambs CAB for Huntingdon, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.
John Huntingdon’s Charity
You will need to provide proof of eligibility, for example your benefits letter, such as Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, bank statement.
Awards will be made subject to an initial assessment. If a CLAS award is appropriate, you will need to provide documentation proving your eligibility before it can be successfully processed.
Before making a grant award the CLAS Champion will have a detailed conversation with you to make sure they have understood your situation. If a CLAS award is appropriate this will be one or more of:
- Recycled white goods and furniture
- New white goods *
- Decorating vouchers
- Supermarket vouchers (food and clothes – only in emergencies)
*Please note the award of new white goods will be by exception only
This isn’t how CLAS used to work – what’s changed?
CHS are now the lead partner of the Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme, working with Cambridge and District Citizens Advice Bureau, Citizens Advice Rural Cambridgeshire, Cambridge Re-use, Ferry Project and CCORRN.
This new partnership has worked hard to improve the offer so that it reaches those most in need and makes best use of all the resources available.
The real strength of the new service is that all of the awards are made by CLAS champions who have been selected for their knowledge, experience and ability to work sensitively with people facing great need.
They will be able to help you think about not just your immediate needs but what you can do to make yourself more secure for the future.