All crisis loans are repayable, and the vast majority are repaid, albeit sometimes over several years. Of the loans issued in 2003-04, more than 95% have so far been recovered.
It seems from answers given by the Department that each year only half of what is paid out in crisis loans is repaid. The police have reported to me that they have evidence of fictional crimes that people invent in order to obtain crime numbers enabling them to gain crisis loans. Can the Minister explain what is being done to ensure that the amount of money being repaid increases, and to stop the abuse of the system?
In order to give my hon. Friend a sense of scale, let me tell him that we lent a little over £200 million in crisis loans last year, and less than £500,000 was written off as unrecoverable. As I have said, the vast majority of loans are recovered, but I share my hon. Friend’s concern that the money should be lent correctly. Localising parts of the crisis loan system will lead to much closer local scrutiny of the purposes for which the money is being lent.