An informal consultation paper, “Social Fund: A New Approach” was published on 1 December 2008 discussing a number of reforms to the social fund. One of the reforms on which initial views were sought was contracting with credit unions or other external organisations to provide credit in place of social fund loans. The intention is to move from a scheme that provides only loans to people on benefit to one that also connects our customers to organisations with whom they can maintain a relationship when they move off benefit and into work which could include better financial advice and support. The views expressed through the consultation, including those from the Credit Union movement, will inform the next steps in developing this type of scheme.
In the mean time the Government are taking the opportunity offered by the Welfare' Reform Bill to take powers to work in partnership with organisations capable of delivering interest free external provider social loans.