§ Earl Russell
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they have any plans to increase the Social Fund allocation to areas which have lost their insurance cover as a result of flooding. [HL943]
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)
It has never been the intention that the Social Fund should act as a replacement for household insurance. I am pleased to confirm that following a series of meetings with the Government, the Association of British Insurers has this month issued a positive statement that flood insurance will continue to be available for the large majority of people living on floodplains.
The discretionary Social Fund provides people on low incomes with grants and loans to help them manage a wide range of unexpected or occasional costs depending on their personal circumstances. We announced in the Pre-Budget Report that from April 2003, £90 million will be added to the discretionary fund over the three years to 2005–06. This extra investment will enhance the fund's ability to help those on low incomes manage their finances.
Where people are affected by flooding, the Social Fund can provide emergency financial help through community care grants and crisis loans. This help can be claimed by people who are receiving income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance and to others who have limited resources.
Social Fund districts can apply to the Social Fund Contingency Reserve for an increase in their Community Care Grant allocation where this is under particular pressure because of a local disaster or emergency such as flooding. The contingency reserve for 2002–03 is £1 million. All districts have been reminded of the availability of the reserve.