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Social Fund

Volume 534: debated on Monday 24 October 2011

In addition to general discussions on welfare reform between Scottish Government Ministers and the Department, both Lord Freud and I have corresponded directly with Scottish Government Ministers about the planned social fund reforms.

I am grateful for the lack of information in that response. [Laughter.] The Minister will be aware that there is every possibility that the legislative consent motion relating to the Welfare Reform Bill, which includes the reform of the social fund, will not be granted consent by the Scottish Parliament. Will the Minister tell us what is his plan B to ensure that vulnerable people in communities in Scotland receive the crisis loans that they require?

Let me point out that the bulk of crisis loans will remain available under a UK-wide scheme. The devolution of the social fund relates principally to community care grants and a small amount of crisis loans. In our view, that money is better handled locally, close to the communities in question, and we hope that the Scottish Parliament will take the opportunity to have the money that is available and to spend it in Scotland, which is what it always tells us it wants.