The Social Fund

Part of Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 14th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Ronnie Fearn Mr Ronnie Fearn , Southport 9:15 pm, 14th March 1988

Amendment No. 19 evolved from an amendment that I tried to table in Committee to schedule 3, and I am delighted that my noble Friend Lord Banks took up the cause of that amendment with more success in another place. He agreed to withdraw that amendment after the Government conceded the need for an extensive study of the operation of the social fund and for the information to be provided in an annual report laid before each House of Parliament.

The amendment tabled by Lord Banks asked the Government to provide detailed information about the number of applications — that is the number of applications for loans and grants accepted and refused — together with a summary of the reasons for the decisions. It is important that the fund, which is a new and in my view extremely unwelcome departure from the normal social security system, is carefully monitored and that the results of the assessment are placed before Parliament for careful consideration.

The amendment does not specifically undertake to do that, but in another place the Government gave an assurance that the report would include detailed information about acceptances and refusals on a regional basis, and information about the reasons for the decisions together with other extensive information. I hope that the Secretary of State can confirm that that is so, especially the regional part.