§ Mr. Willetts
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions by how much Social Fund loan recoveries are expected to change in value in the current year and for what reason; and whether this increase is related to a change in the rules on loan repayments. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
The discretionary Social Fund plays an important role in the Government's agenda for tackling poverty and social exclusion by helping the poorest and most needy members of society meet the cost of occasional one-off essential items through community care grants, budgeting loans and crisis loans.
The forecast Social Fund loans recovery for 2003–04 is £519.3 million as opposed to £488.8 million in 2002–03. There has been no change in the rules on loan repayments. The increase in recoveries is due to the fact that the annual national gross loans budget has increased year after year enabling more people to take advantage of the Social Fund loans scheme.