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Social Fund

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 7th July 2011.

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Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Conservative, North East Hertfordshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to monitor and assess the extent to which money paid to claimants from the Social Fund is used for the purposes set out in their applications.

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The Social Fund consists of a regulated and a discretionary scheme. Funeral Payments, Sure Start Maternity Grants, Cold Weather Payments and Winter Fuel Payments are part of the regulatory Social Fund scheme. Community Care Grants, Crisis and Budgeting Loans are part of the discretionary Social Fund scheme.

The Social Fund does not routinely monitor or assess the extent to which money paid to claimants is used for the purposes set out in their applications because the high volume of payments made for the scheme, especially in relation to cold weather and winter fuel payments, make the cost of monitoring and assessing what payments are spent on prohibitive.

In relation to the Community Care Grant scheme, however, targeted pre-award visits based upon set risk criteria are made to confirm claimants needs prior to an award being made. In addition repeat applications will not be successful if they are made for the same need within 12 months of an earlier application.

For Crisis and Budgeting Loans, applications will only be successful if the applicant is facing a disaster or an emergency and the health and safety of the applicant or their family is at risk; or they require money for a one off expense not covered by benefits. Any award made is fully recoverable.

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