HC Deb 04 April 2003 vol 402 cc914-5W
Mr. Willetts

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether people who stop being entitled to income support or jobseeker's allowance in favour of the new tax credits will retain access to grants and loans from the Social Fund. [106118]

Malcolm Wicks

With the introduction of the new tax credits from April 2003, we estimate that more than 75 per cent. of families floating off income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance will gain by at least £20 a week—some by much bigger amounts. Anyone who receives the child tax credit at the maximum rate or any other rate greater than the family element, or the working tax credit where a disability or severe disability element is in payment, will qualify for Sure Start maternity grants and funeral payments from the regulated Social Fund, provided that all of the other eligibility criteria are met.

Budgeting loans and community care grants from the discretionary Social Fund target the available help on the neediest people in our society who qualify for income-related benefits. We have taken the view that access to these elements of the Fund should not be extended to a wider range of people with higher incomes as such help would be poorly targeted and potentially very costly.

Crisis loans will continue to be available to anyone in an emergency or as a consequence of a disaster where there is no other means of preventing serious damage or serious risk to their health or safety or that of their family. There is no requirement for a crisis loan applicant to be receiving an income-related benefit or a tax credit, but any income or capital they have will be taken into account.