Social Fund

House of Lords written question – answered on 11 August 2011.

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Photo of Baroness King of Bow Baroness King of Bow Labour

To ask Her Majesty's Government who were the 68 individuals and organisations who responded to the Department for Work and Pensions Green Paper on Social Fund reform published in March 2010, and whether they will publish a summary of those responses.

Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Including late submissions, a total of 72 responses were received to the Department for Work and Pensions consultation paper Social Fund Reform: Debt, Credit and Low-income Households (Cm 7750), which was published in March 2010.

Details of the respondents to the consultation are set out in table 1 and a summary of responses to the proposals are in table 2.

Table 1: consultation respondents

1. A4E

2. Association of British Credit Unions

3. Access to Benefits (Northern Ireland)

4. Advice Centres for Avon

5. Advice NI

6. Advice Services Coventry

7. Age UK

8. Alzheimer's Scotland

9. Barnardo's

10. Rt Hon David Blunkett MP

11. BM and C Howard Funeral Services

12. Brighton and Hove Multi Agency

13. British Bankers Association

14. Broadway Homelessness Support

15. Trevor Buck

16. Calderdale CAB

17. Christians Against Poverty

18. Citizen's Advice

19. Connection Floating Support Team

20. Consumer Focus

21. Child Poverty Action Group

22. Credit Action

23. Crisis

24. Committee for Social Development, Northern Ireland Assembly

25. Durham County Council

26. Essex County Council Evansabove

27. Teresa Evans

28. Family Action

29. Furniture Reuse Network

30. Gingerbread

31. Gary Greaves

32. Hertfordshire County Council

33. HLG

34. Home Group

35. Homeless Link

36. Brian Howard

37. Federation of Irish Societies

38. Financial Inclusion Taskforce

39. Lancashire County Council

40. Law Centre NI/Housing Rights Service

41. Local Government Association

42. Money Advice Trust

43. National Association of Funeral Directors

44. National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers

45. Northern Irish Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders

46. National Offender Management Service

47. National Union of Students

48. Peabody Trust

49. Personal Finance Research Centre, University of Bristol

50. Plymouth City Council

51. Public & Commercial Services Union

52. Reading Refugee Support Group

53. Refugee Action

54. Richmond Aid

55. RL Glasspool Charity Trust

56. Saskia Szokolovics

57. Save the Children UK

58. SAY Women

59. Scope

60. Social Fund Commissioner

61. Solihull Churches Action on Homelessness

62. South East Homeless Forum

63. South Lanarkshire Council

64. Social Security Advisory Committee

65. Stockport Advice

66. Stonham Floating Support

67. Swansea Council

68. Toynbee Hall

69. Trades Union Council

70. Wavertree CAB

71. Wonga

72. Yorkshire Housing

Table 2: summary of consultation questions and responses
Proposal Description Summary of Stakeholder Responses
Proposals for early change: "a simpler loans structure with transparency around eligibility criteria and much more targeted discretion". The Green Paper suggested this could be achieved through: •Easier, lighter-touch access to budgeting loans (BL); •BLs from day one for most customers; •Signposting to the Money Guidance service; •A lower maximum award amount in the first six months of benefit (than currently awarded for budgeting loans (BLs)); A requirement for an interview on second application for a crisis loan (CL). •Support for easier access to BLs and eligibility from day one, but at same rate in first 6 months. • Support for signposting to services enhancing financial inclusion and opportunities for increased support but not for it to be conditional, and delivered at appropriate time, dependent on individual's circumstances.
Longer-term proposals: "changes which will reduce complexity and increase the levels of support available to address customers' longer-term needs". The Green Paper was fairly open on how this might be achieved, but made a number of suggestions: •a single point of entry to the loans scheme (rather than the present three); •a full financial health check at a suitable stage; •requiring those who need frequent help to draw up plans with advisers; •active engagement with support services as a requirement for receiving a loan. The Green Paper also asked which organisations would be best placed to provide greater support. •Support for single application gateway, with calls to include CCG applications in process. •Support for financial health checks and further engagement, on personalised basis and not conditional to award. • Responses identified Third Sector organisations as best to carry out interventions, CAB most referenced.
"a reformed grants system should ensure that payments go to those who are experiencing the most exceptional need". The Green Paper proposed that the grants scheme could be better focused by: •targeting the discretionary grant scheme on those facing exceptional need with a greater element of support; •provision of goods and services instead of cash for grants; and •a new standardised resettlement grant, potentially delivered through a regulated scheme, but with separate arrangements for those leaving prison. •General backing for provision of goods and services instead of cash for grants in principle, with concerns around reduction of choice, fear of stigmatisation, contradictory to wider message of developing financial independence. •Wide support for regulated resettlement grants: call for extending eligibility beyond groups currently eligible for CCGs, including those leaving prison.
"we are considering whether to extend help with funeral costs to... students who do not qualify for welfare benefits" The Green Paper asked whether students not in receipt of benefits should be eligible for a funeral payment where they meet all the other qualifying conditions and how they should be identified. •General support for widening to students in full-time higher education •Queries over why extension of eligibility limited to students only - why not those on contributions-based benefits, young people on lower rates of benefits
"Community Care Grants... may lend themselves more easily [than loans] to be delivered by an alternative provider to Jobcentre Plus" The Green Paper asked whether the power to make Community Care Grants and a per capita proportion of the CCG budget should be devolved to the Scottish Government and what the benefits would be. Limited response to this issue. Majority responded negatively to proposals. Two responses from Scottish organisations: one advised caution, one supportive.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes1 person thinks so

No0 people think not

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