HC Deb 11 February 2004 vol 417 cc1492-3W
Mr. Love

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will provide additional assistance to those families on low incomes who receive a Social Fund(a) grant and (b) loan where the amount awarded is insufficient to cover basic household goods. [154205]

Mr. Pond

Community Care Grants, Crisis Loans and Budgeting Loans are part of the discretionary Social Fund. They are designed to provide extra help for the most vulnerable people in society, helping them meet unexpected and more routine needs. The Discretionary Social Fund net budget will be increased by 19 per cent. in April 2004 and by a further 23 per cent. in April 2005.

As the Discretionary Social Fund is cash limited decision makers may not always be able to award the full amount that a person has asked for; however they will always consider individual circumstances when making an award.

If a person believes that the grant or loan is not sufficient to meet their needs they have the right to ask for the decision to be reviewed, first by their local office and, if they disagree with the outcome, the Independent Review Service. There are no current plans to change this procedure.