Social Fund Reforms April 2013

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SOCIAL FUND REFORM – update.
· December 2010 Government White Paper – Universal Credit: welfare
that works – included details of Social Fund reform proposals.
· A key aim of the reform is to protect the budgeting loans, which assists
vulnerable groups.
· The introduction of Universal Credit makes reform essential.
· The Welfare Reform Bill will abolish the discretionary social fund and
replace parts of it with new local based provision and other parts with a
national system of payments on account.
· The local provision will be devolved to local authorities in England and
to the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. The measure
will give local communities greater control over the way local services
are designed and delivered.
· The current remoteness of the system makes discretionary decision
making very difficult – for example, a Community Care Grant
application might be made by a customer living in Norwich but it will be
processed by a decision maker in Inverness. Local provision is a better
way of targeting support at vulnerable people.
· Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses
will be replaced by local welfare assistance (from April 2013), which will
be the responsibility of local authorities in England and the Scottish and
Welsh Governments.
· Currently the Welsh Government is considering whether it should
consult on the future services in Wales.
· Nationally Budgeting Advances will replace Budgeting Loans and Crisis
Loans for alignment will be replaced (from April 2013) by a national
provision of payments on account (Short Term Advances),
administered by the Department - we are not affiliated with any organisation mentioned. for Work and Pensions. This new
system will also replace interim payments of benefit so there is a single
system of payments.
· Expenditure on Crisis Loans has risen dramatically since 2006. The
number of Crisis Loans awarded has increased from the relatively
steady state of just over one million a year in 2005-06 to 2.7 million in
2009-10. This increase in applications can be directly linked to
structural changes made to the scheme, and is largely independent of
the recession.
· Since 2006 the number of Crisis Loan awards has tripled. We do not
believe that this increase reflects an underlying increase in genuine
need, as it is largely independent of the recession. Analysis of the
increased demand has shown that it is being driven by young single
people on Jobseekers Allowance, many of them still living at home,
rather than reflecting a more general trend across all the benefit client
groups. There is no discernable evidence to suggest that the increased
demand from this group is linked to an increase in need, as it predates
the recessional rise in youth unemployment.
· Budgeting loans will continue to be available until Universal Credit is
fully rolled out. As people migrate across to Universal Credit they will
have access to a new system of Budgeting Advances that will replace
Budgeting Loans for Universal Credit recipients.
· Funding will be based on Social Fund expenditure rather than Barnett.
Summary of reforms
Current provision Provision from April 2013 Administration in GB from
2013
Cold Weather Payments As now. Universal Credit will become a
qualifying benefit
DWP
Funeral Payments As now. Universal Credit will become a
qualifying benefit
DWP
Sure Start Maternity
Grants
As now. Universal Credit will become a
qualifying benefit
DWP
Winter Fuel Payments As now. DWP
Budgeting Loans As now for existing income-related benefits.
Budgeting Advances available to eligible
Universal Credit recipients
DWP
Crisis Loan Alignment
Payments
Replaced with Short Term Advances. The
new system will also replace interim
payments of benefit so there is a single system
of payments
DWP
Crisis Loans for general
living expenses
Abolished. Replaced with locally based
provision
English local authorities and
devolved administrations in
Scotland and Wales
Community Care Grants Abolished. Replaced with locally based
provision
English local authorities and
devolved administrations in
Scotland and Wales

Scottish to give away Fridges

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The Scottish Government Offer both goods and grants plus
optional other support

Respondents broadly supported the option of
offering both goods and grants to enable individual
circumstances to be addressed, while giving people
choice and offering flexibility.
Grants
The advantage of grants was that they enable
personal choice, which helps to empower individuals
and promote financial capability. The provision of
grants would also support local economies.
Goods
The provision of goods would provide the potential for
savings through bulk purchasing and through avoiding
the inappropriate spending of cash payments.
Alternatives to goods-only provision would be to offer
vouchers or a supervised-spend system. The main
disadvantage of providing goods was that it limited
individual choice and personal responsibility.
The types of goods that should be provided
included a range of white goods, furniture and other
household items seen as essential to furnish a home.
Respondents argued that goods provision should be
flexible to meet the specific needs of individuals with
disabilities.
Optional support and advice
Respondents were generally in favour of offering
other types of support (such as budgeting advice)
with the strong caveat that such support should not
be compulsory.

Scottish Single Grant Fund

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Qualified endorsement for a single grant fund
There was qualified endorsement of the proposal that
the successor arrangements should operate a single
grant fund. This was seen to offer financial benefits,
both to applicants and organisations, by reducing
complexity, improving effectiveness, lowering delivery
and administration costs and maximising available
resources. This approach was also seen to fit well
with other key Scottish Government policies.
Those that did not clearly endorse the option of a
single grant fund saw benefits in running a system
of both grants and loans. The key advantage of loans
was in recycling funds back into the system.

Scottish may Issue Crisis Loan Vouchers

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Scottish Crisis Loans and social fund
Main Findings
?? Respondents welcomed the devolution of the Social Fund as an opportunity for the Scottish Government to
remedy the deficiencies and complexities of the existing system and to secure better integration with other
aspects of welfare and public policy in Scotland. More information was sought about the parameters of the
future system and there were caveats in relation to funding and financial risk, eligibility, the interface with
forthcoming welfare benefit changes, equalities issues and accessibility.
?? Respondents gave a qualified endorsement of the proposal for a single grant fund, combining the current
systems of grants and loans.
?? Overall, where a preference was expressed, it was for local delivery, particularly by local authorities; they were
the most widely proposed organisations to take on successor arrangements. Preference for central delivery
came almost entirely from the third sector. However, respondents also saw scope for taking the best elements
of both central and local delivery approaches.
?? Respondents felt a blend of delivery channels would best support a client-focused approach, able to meet a
variety of needs, by providing a tailored service to assist the most vulnerable, to promote accessibility of the
service and give choice.
?? Responses indicated that eligibility and prioritisation should be based on individual need and the immediacy
and extent of any threat to health and wellbeing, rather than on particular groups or events. Respondents felt
that eligibility definitions should be provided as guidance rather than being prescriptive.
?? The provision of both grants and goods was well received and other non-compulsory support, such as budgeting
advice, was endorsed.
?? The successor arrangements were seen to offer an opportunity to establish an effective appeals system as well
as reducing the volume of appeals.

2
Background
The devolved administration in Scotland has
responsibility for establishing successor arrangements
for two elements of the discretionary Social Fund —
Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans. These
findings detail the views of respondents to a
consultation about how these aspects of the Fund
might operate in Scotland when funding transfers
from the Department - we are not affiliated with any organisation mentioned. for Work and Pensions (DWP)
to the Scottish Government in April 2013. The
results will inform Ministerial decisions for successor
arrangements.
The Scottish Government consultation paper,
published in August 2011 sought views on the
successor arrangements including: the potential
format of funding and balance of grants, loans and
goods, different ways to deliver support (centrally
or locally); delivery channels, eligibility criteria and
how appeals should be organised. The paper made
it clear that the devolved funding should continue to
address similar needs to those of the current system,
administered by Jobcentre Plus.
Overview of responses
The consultation attracted 50 responses, most of
which were from organisations, with four individual
responses from people with professional experience
of the issues. Twenty-nine responses were from third
sector organisations, 13 from local authorities and
4 from other public sector organisations, including
the current Social Fund Commissioner. There were
submissions from several third sector umbrella
groups in the areas of poverty, advice and disability.
There were no direct responses from black and
minority ethnic organisations or from those working
with the elderly. Responses included feedback from
agency-run workshops and were largely based on
direct service user and practitioner experience.
The consultation process invited anyone who wished
to respond to do so; as such, the responses are not
based on a representative sample. The data was
largely qualitative and the report highlights the nature
of the responses and the themes that emerged across
responses. No attempt has been made to identify an
overall consensus.
General views on the successor
arrangements
Respondents welcomed the devolution of the Social
Fund as an opportunity for the Scottish Government
to remedy the deficiencies and complexities of the
existing system and to secure better integration
with other aspects of welfare and public policy
in Scotland. It was seen as an important step in
tackling the way in which the current welfare system
undermines other aspects of Scottish Government
policy. However, further information and clarification
on the level of funding to be available were widely
requested to inform judgements about the best way
to deliver the service.

Scotland to Have Social Fund Controll 2013

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Scotland to have separate Crisis Loans Budget

As part of the Devolution process the Scottish National assembly have been considering options around how they are going to administer Crisis Loans, Budgeting loans and community care grants when they are handed responsibility for their own Social Fund System by the DWP in 2013.

A Recent study has found that a small sample of people who responded would consider having Vouchers instead of actual cash payment being awarded by the New social fund section.

The Scottish Government sought views through a consultation paper on how Community Care Grants and
Crisis Loans, two discretionary elements of the Social Fund, might operate in Scotland when funding
transfers from the Department - we are not affiliated with any organisation mentioned. for Work and Pensions (DWP) to the Scottish Government in April 2013.
Fifty responses were received; these were self-selected, rather than representative of views across Scotland.
The data was largely qualitative and the report highlights the nature of the responses and the themes that
emerged across responses.

What to expect when applying for a budgeting loan

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Well given that we are constantly asked the same question “how long does a budgeting loan take ?” back in December we decided to start a poll to see if we can work ou how log it actually takes in the real world.

What should I expect when I apply for a budgeting loan?

The idea Is that it takes around 20 working days for the application to be paid out ( if you have been accepted AND accept the repayment rate)
However, each case is different and because of that there can be a large difference in how long a budgeting loan application takes.
There are things that you can do to try to speed up the process and these are listed below.

  1. Download a Budgeting Loan Application, or get it from Job Centre Plus
  2. Fill it out clearly and fully
  3. Make sure that you have priced things reasonably, as this should result in less checking
  4. make sure you sign, date and put your National Insurance number on the form
  5. Send it back to the right place!
  6. You can replace the 2nd class envelope with a first class to cut postal delays
  7. You can deliver it yourself to your local Jobcentre.

What is the Budgeting Loan application process?

Here’s what generally happens in the Budgeting Loan process:

  • You apply
  • Your application is rated
  • An offer is made ( or you are refused)
  • Your offer is posted to you (2nd class)
  • You reply
  • The reply is processed
  • Payment is issued ( usual taking 3 working days to hit your account)

Please remember to come back and fill out the following poll to give others an idea of how long it is taking to get a budgeting loan.