The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, Lesley Strathie. I have asked her to provide the hon. Member with the information requested.
Letter from Lesley Strathie, dated 26 November 2007:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply direct to your question asking whether budgeting advice is offered to Social Fund claimants. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
At the outset of any new claim to benefit all clients are interviewed by advisers who will identify and address, where required, appropriate financial help. Furthermore, advisers are equipped with information on a range of organisations that can help with free financial and debt advice. Advisers can make appointments with the local Citizens Advice Bureau or other appropriate partner organisations. Jobcentre Plus continues to advise and support the customer throughout their claim.
For Social Fund applicants in particular, there is information in the budgeting loan decision letter on where to get help and advice. Also, the Social Fund part of the Jobcentre Plus website signposts customers to sources of money and debt advice.
In addition the “Now Let’s Talk money” campaign was formally launched within DWP on 30/07/07. Its purpose is to help people who may not know that they can get free face-to-face money and debt advice and who do not normally have access to affordable credit and loans, credit union or basic bank accounts. “Now Let’s Talk Money” is funded by the Treasury as part of a £126 million Financial Inclusion Fund to help people who are financially excluded.
I hope this is helpful.