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Social Fund

Volume 164: debated on Monday 8 January 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has to alter the existing structure and increase the resources provided for the social fund; and what steps he is taking to ensure that decisions made in regard to grants were equitable in one area of the country against another.

My right hon. Friend recently announced that we have made available an additional £3 million for local offices facing the heaviest pressures on their budgets.We have no plans to alter the existing structure of the social fund. Its discretionary nature enables social fund officers to look at each application on its merits. This means that decisions on similar cases will, quite properly, differ. We are, however, taking action, for example, by regional monitoring of decisions and by regular seminars for social fund officers, to ensure the highest possible standard of decision-making across the whole country.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the 100 social security offices which are to have their social fund allocations increased as a result of particular pressures, referred to in his written answer of 19 December to the hon. Member for Sherwood (Mr. Stewart).

Details of the 96 local offices that have received increased social fund allocations for 1989–90 are in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will give consideration to amending directions 10 and 28 of his social fund directions to allow claims for the cost of redecoration in cases where applicants within the social fund manual, paragraphs 6380 and 6505, may only be decorating one room, and the cost of this may be below £30.

No. The main purpose of the social fund is to provide for expenses that are difficult to meet out of normal income. We believe that it is reasonable to expect

National supplementary benefit income support limits, nursing and residential care homes and additions for personal expenses
April 1985 £November 1985 £July 1986 £April 1987 £April 1988 £April 1989 £1 April 1990 £
Nursing homes
Elderly and others138·60170170175185190200
Mentally ill148·60180·180180185195200
Drug/Alcohol dependent148·60180180180185190200
Mentally handicapped168·60200200200200205215
Physically disabled under pension age198·60230230230230235245
Terminally ill198·60230230230230235245
Residential care homes
Very dependent or blind elderly140145155155165
Mentally ill120130130130130140150
Drug/Alcohol dependent120130130130140140150
Mentally Handicapped140150150150160165175
Physically disabled under pension age170180180190190200210
Greater London extension17·5017·5017·5023·0023·00
Addition for personal expenses8·508·959059·259·5510·0510·55
1 Proposed

people to budget for small expenses from their regular weekly income without help from the social fund. However, a social fund crisis loan may be considered for an amount below £30 if the applicant has no other resources and there is a serious risk to the health or safety of the applicant or a member of his or her family.