To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total amount of single payments paid by the Department of Health and Social Security in 1987–88; and what plans he has to protect the living standards of claimants under the new social fund arrangements.
Single payments in the 52 weeks ended 12 January 1988 amounted to nearly £24·3 million.From April 1988, people will generally be expected to manage on their weekly income. However, under the social fund there will continue to be non-repayable grants to help people maintain themselves in the community. Loans will also be available to help with budgeting and there will be limits to the size of weekly repayments. These will be set in proportion to the applicant's benefit level and his continuing commitments, the aim being to ensure that the level of recovery is not unreasonable.