HC Deb 04 July 1995 vol 263 cc187-8W
Mr. McMaster

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was(a) the monthly amount and (b) the total amount of (i) community care grants and (ii) crisis loans in the (1) Paisley, North and (2) Paisley, South parliamentary constituencies which resulted from the flood of December 1994; if he will show in respect of community care grants the average amount awarded to claimants in each constituency, and in respect of crisis loans (A) the average amount and (B) the average weekly repayment which is sought from claimants in each constituency; and if he will make a statement. [31408]

Mr. Roger Evans

The administration of the Social Fund is a matter for Mr. Ian Magee, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member with such information as is available.

Letter from Ian Magee to Mr. Gordon McMaster, dated 3 July 1995: The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about Community Care Grant (CCG) and Crisis Loan (CL) applications received by the Benefits Agency from people affected by the flooding in the Paisley North and Paisley South constituencies. I should first of all point out that constituency and Benefits Agency (BA) District boundaries do not correspond exactly. Paisley North and Paisley South constituencies are served by the BA District of Renfrew. The information is therefore given for this District. Information relating to the average weekly repayment of CLs made is not readily available. It could only be obtained by examining every loan award made to the flood victims. In general, if an applicant has no commitments then the repayment rate for a loan is normally 15% of the amount of the Income Support applicable in an individual case. This is intended to ensure both that the repayment rate is appropriate to an applicant's individual circumstances, and that the loan is repaid in the shortest reasonable time. It is also intended to prevent the repayments being too high or going on for too long. However, if the applicant has commitments or debts, rates of 10% or 5% may be applied and even lower rates may be used in extreme cases. Full regard is taken of the applicant's income and any existing commitments when decisions on the rate of repayment are made. At Annex A I have provided information on the total and average amounts of CCG and CL awards made in the District as at 31 January 1995. After this date only one other application was received from a victim of the flood. The application was made in June and resulted in a CCG award of £869. I hope you find this reply useful.

Annex A: Details of community care grant and crisis loan awards made by Renfrew district as at 31 January 1995
District Benefit type Number of awards Amount awarded £ Average award £
Renfrew Community care grant 424 80,951 190.92
Crisis loans 99 13,159 132.92

Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent consideration he has given the operation of the social fund review process. [32852]

Mr. Evans

I am pleased to announce that an improvement to the social fund review process will be made and will take effect from 4 September 1995. The change is designed to streamline the stages of the first tier of the social fund review procedures and will improve the speed and the efficiency with which cases are handled within the Benefits Agency district offices.

Applicants will, of course, continue to retain the right of an independent review by a social fund inspector.