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Social Fund

Volume 281: debated on Wednesday 17 July 1996

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when he intends to publish his annual report on the social fund for 1995–96 and the Social Fund Commissioner's annual report; and if he will make a statement. [37972]

The Secretary of State's annual report on the social fund for 1995–96, Cm 3320, was published today and has been laid before Parliament. The report records that the gross budget allocated to the discretionary part of the fund on 1 April 1995 was £406 million, an increase of £53 million on the budget set at 1 April 1994. For the current year, we have increased the gross discretionary budget by £13.5 million to £419.5 million.Total gross expenditure in 1995–96 was £534 million, £83 million higher than in 1994–95 and was the highest annual level of expenditure since the fund was set up in 1988. This included over 2 million non-repayable grants and interest-free loans worth £401 million and funeral, maternity and cold weather payments worth £133 million.Cold weather payments were increased from £7 to £8.50 on 1 November 1995. Over 7 million payments were made to around 3 million people at a cost of £62 million.As part of the aim of eliminating abuse, changes to the funeral payment scheme came into effect on 5 June 1995 to ensure that only those with good cause for taking responsibility for a funeral were eligible for help. In addition, a ceiling was placed on the amount payable to cover specified funeral directors' charges. The number of funeral payments had nearly doubled between 1988–89 and 1994–95, but expenditure had more than trebled. The new arrangements continue to provide for a dignified funeral but at the same time protect public funds. Expenditure on funeral payments has reduced from £63 million in 1994–95 to £49 million in 1995–96.The social fund continues to play an important role in supporting mainstream social security provision, in providing a varied and flexible response to the individual needs of applicants and in offering the taxpayer value for money.

ForcesTotal police vehicle accidentsTotal police accidents arising from pursuits and emergency callsPolice fatal injuryPolice serious injuryCivilian fatal injuryCivilian serious injury
Avon and Somerset6081700101
City of London56140001
Devon and Cornwall383530001
Dyfed Powys143200001
Greater Manchester9204260204

The Social Fund Commissioner's annual report has also been published today and copies have been placed in the Library.