§ Mr. Corbyn
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guidelines are issued to local DSS offices in assessing victims of domestic violence when they seek access to social fund loans or grants.
§ Mr. Scott
National guidance on dealing with social fund applications is contained in the social fund guide, a copy of which is in the Library. Paragraphs 5400 to 5405 provide guidance on applications for community care grants to help an applicant move to different accommodation. Paragraph 5404 states that, where an applicant is moving out of the accommodation following a breakdown of a relationship, a higher priority may be given to cases where there has been domestic violence, if a payment will help to protect the applicant and any children from risk. No specific guidance is given in relation to budgeting and crisis loans.
District managers as area social fund officers are also required to give guidance to social fund officers on both the nature, extent and urgency of needs within the locality and the high, medium and low priority needs which may be met from the district budget. This guidance may include advice on the priority of applications from victims of domestic violence.
In addition, social fund officers, in determining applications, are required to consider the individual circumstances of each case. Where domestic violence is relevant to the application, this will be taken into account.