I am announcing changes to the community care grant scheme to ensure the fund is appropriately used. Discretionary social fund directions will be amended with effect from 4 July 2011.
The Public Accounts Committee hearing on the community care grant scheme was held on 3 November 2010. One of the recommendations was that more could be done to prevent abuse of the scheme. I am therefore amending Social Fund Direction 7 to prevent repeat applications being awarded, unless there has been a relevant change of circumstances. The current direction, which applies to both community care grants and crisis loans, prevents repeat applications being awarded if an application is made within 28 days of a previous application for the same expenses. This period will be extended to 12 months.
The 12-month time limit has been chosen because this is broadly in line with manufacturers guarantee periods. In addition the period is well within the scope of the Sale of Goods Act and is a reasonable period during which customers are able, if goods are faulty, to take the matter up with the retailer.
I am also taking the opportunity to make some minor and technical amendments to the directions.
Copies of the amended Secretary of State directions have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.