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Social Fund changes will lead to drastic reduction of support to most vulnerable warn charities

14 April 2011

Fifteen organisations have today joined forces and written a letter to the Minister of State for Pensions, Steve Webb MP expressing deep concern about DWP proposals to abolish parts of the Social Fund.

The Social Fund provides an extremely important safety net to many of the most vulnerable people in our society say the Chartered Institute of Housing, Citizens Advice, Community Links, CPAG, Crisis, Family Action, Gingerbread, Homeless Link, National Housing Federation, Platform 51, RNIB, Shelter, St Mungo's, Toynbee Hall and the TUC. They warn that proposed changes to abolish Community Care Grants and most aspects of Crisis Loans, and to transfer administration to local authorities from 2013 when Universal Credit is introduced, could result in a drastic and wide scale reduction of vital support to those most in need.

The letter to the Minister highlights the huge scale of need for these payments. While there were 640,000 applications for a Community Care Grant, and 3.65 million applications for a Crisis Loan in 2009/10, evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee last year showed that on average, only 32 per cent of “legitimate demand” for Community Care Grants was met.*

While the letter recognises that there is a need to review how these payments are administered, the charities express deep concern at the lack of analysis by the DWP into the needs and circumstances of the people who rely on Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans, and the lack of details on how the proposals will work. The charities also express concern at the decision to move administration to local authorities at a time when their budgets are being cut.

The charities are asking for the opportunity to meet with the Minister, as well as urging him to provide further evidence and a clear business case to explain and justify the withdrawal of such an essential part of the welfare system, and to explain how the proposals would meet the needs of the most vulnerable to ensure an effective safety net is maintained.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk. You can also get advice online at adviceguide.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.