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Unfair and underfunded

27 January 2022

Benefits and tax credits evidence cover

Unfair and underfunded [ 270 kb] - CAB evidence on what’s wrong with the Social Fund


The Social Fund exists to enable people on very low incomes to meet needs that they cannot afford from their normal benefit income.  These needs include such things as the cost of clothes and other equipment for a new baby, beds and cookers for people setting up home after homelessness or mental illness, or the costs of replacing essential items destroyed in a fire.  In this Evidence Report we draw attention to the manifest failings of the Social Fund to meet the needs of people on low incomes. These failings have left some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society socially excluded and deprived of the necessities for a decent standard of life.  It is particularly shocking when the people who are left to suffer in this way include children and people with severe health problems.

This report is based on analysis of 2,042 evidence reports submitted by 494 Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, during the period January 1999 to July 2002. To prepare this report, we have collaborated with member organisations of the Association of Charity Officers.  Their experience is that people often have to turn to these charitable organisations for the money to buy essential items because the Social Fund has turned them away.  This is an intolerable situation in an advanced country at the start of the 21st century.  It is clear that the Social Fund needs extensive reform in order to achieve the Government’s objectives to provide help to people when they need it most, to provide more support to families with children, and to combat social exclusion.

Unfair and underfunded [ 270 kb] - CAB evidence on what’s wrong with the Social Fund

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