My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (James Plaskitt) has made the following Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce publication of the annual report by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the Social Fund 2005-06 and the Social Fund Commissioner's annual report. The Secretary of State's annual report on the Social Fund for 2005-2006 (Cm 6856) was published today and has been laid before Parliament. Copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
The report records that total gross expenditurein 2005-06, excluding winter fuel payments, was£917 million. That included more than 275,000 non-repayable grants and more than 2.2 million interest-free loans together worth over £742 million, and funeral and cold weather payments totalling more than£53 million. In addition, around 238,000 Sure Start maternity grants worth over £120 million were made, and over 8 million households benefited from a winter fuel payment at a cost of around £1.99 billion.
The report also confirms that reforms to the Social Fund loan scheme were introduced from April 2006, with extra net funding of £210 million over the next three years to support the changes.
The Social Fund Commissioner's report has also been published today, and copies will be available in the Libraries of both Houses.