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Iain Duncan Smith visits `Furniture Bank'

Iain Duncan Smith won’t engage with food-banks but he visited a Suffolk-based `furniture bank’ yesterday.



Bob and Iain Duncan SmithAs Helen Middleton, the Furniture Re-use Network’s spokesperson on welfare issues says: “Maybe he unwittingly stepped into the heart of the #keepthesafetynet campaign which aims to save local welfare assistance funding, because our sector is so far below his radar. The charitable re-use sector tends to hide its’ poverty alleviating, reusable lights under a bushel although we’ve been around for nearly 30 years. Our work, and the families our sector exists to support, is as politically-charged as the food-bank debate”.


Mr Duncan Smith was shown how Ipswich Furniture Project works in partnership with Suffolk County Council in the delivery of support to families in crisis via its excellent Local Welfare Assistance Scheme.


The furniture re-use sector handled over 300,000 in-crisis demands for support from individuals and families across the UK since the introduction of Local Welfare Assistance schemes in April 2013, in addition to the 950,000 low income households the sector helps per annum.


Alarmingly, over 60% of 250 member organisations in England have become food as well as furniture banks. None are part of The Trussell Trust network of food-banks.


The furniture re-use network is extremely concerned about the lack of analysis concerning the real level of crisis in our communities. Government is basing policy decisions – particularly the future of local welfare provision - upon the budget spend of local authorities. This is not indicative of the experiences of FRN members and other welfare support agencies.




Helen Middleton

Market Development Manager

Furniture Re-use Network

Tel: 07726 358243

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The deadline is today (21st November 2014) for submissions to the Department of Communities and Local Government consultation regarding local welfare provision 2015/16.

 By providing access to pre-used, low-cost essential household goods, the furniture re-use sector saves low income families the equivalent of £350million. £350million that payday lenders, loan sharks and high interest retail stores won’t see.

Our work saves on local authority welfare and waste budgets too.

 The Furniture re-use Network (FRN) is the national body which supports, assists and develops charitable re‐use organisations (the social economy re-use sector).

We’ve been reducing poverty by helping households in need access furniture, appliances and other household items at affordable prices for nearly 30 years.

The FRN is primarily concerned with welfare and material poverty alleviation.


Furniture re-use charities are disappearing from deprived local communities, because the level of demand for waste and welfare solutions from local authorities has increased at a time when core funding support has been slashed.


Ipswich Furniture Project (IFP) and Suffolk County Council Local Welfare Assistance partnership is an exemplar of innovation, resource and budget management and effectiveness in supporting people in crisis.

Since April 2013, IFP has supported 1,514 low income households in-crisis, referred to them by Suffolk’s LWA scheme; 

  • It has supplied 22,397 pre-used furniture items, potentially saving 477.58 tonnes of reusable

  • furniture waste from landfill, thereby saving on local authority collection and waste disposal


  • Supplied 2,224 re-used electrical items, a re-use rate of 29%;

  • Supplied 2,306 new furniture items, mainly beds/mattresses and 4,300 new electrical items;

  • Saved the local authority £111,585 in discounts, by providing pre-used goods;

  • Created 35 jobs, training and volunteering opportunities.


FRN has many similar examples of highly-effective local authority/voluntary sector partnerships.


Conversely, we hold a body of evidence about the massive, negative impacts upon voluntary sector organisations as demand for support for in-crisis household grows. Charities are forced to subsidise the State by making frequent fund-raising applications to grant-giving trusts.


The Furniture Re-use Network is a leading charity in the #keepthesafetynet campaign, along with The Cripplegate Foundation; The Childrens’ Society; Child Poverty Action Group and over 20 other such bodies.


For more details:


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