From the TUC

Social Fund Cuts

04 Mar 2011, by in Society & Welfare

I have a post today at Left Foot Forward, looking at the impact of yesterday’s announcement that Social Fund Crisis Loans are going to be cut back very heavily. We were already worried about the Social Fund: a current consultation on “localising” these vital loans threatens a postcode lottery for support. Steve Webb’s announcement goes further and threatens a lifeline for people at the end of their tether. Since I wrote my post, the Financial Times’ Westminster Blog has put up a very interesting article, contrasting what he said as an Opposition social security spokesperson in 2009 with what he said yesterday when he announced the new cuts. On March 26 we will let the government know what we think of cuts – cuts to public services and cuts like this in the benefits that help the poorest and weakest survive when disaster strikes.

One Response to Social Fund Cuts

  1. Clare Fernyhough
    Mar 5th 2011, 12:44 pm

    Due to illness I’ve had to give up work a number of times, for sometimes a year or so. The main reason I needed crisis loans was due to the incompetance of the system, where giro cheques and order books did not turn up on time. Over the course of a year, there may be many occasions where this might happen.

    The crisis loan payment system has changed over the last 5 or 6 years. Fortunately I was working at the time (although I am too ill now to do so) but a friend who had a nervous breakdown and had to give up work for around a year had constant problems with her giro cheque not arriving. You were no longer allowed to apply in person and had to phone a number instead. The ‘interview’ lasts around 40 minutes during which time you are asked to borrow from friends and family and have to give an account of how many rounds of bread you have left, milk etc.

    You are rarely granted more than £30, which might sound ok to tide someone over, but my friend had gas and electric meters to feed, which in the winter is very expensive so had little money left for food afterwards; you also don’t know how long you may have to wait for the replacement giro cheque. Moreover, to obtain the money you are directed to a DWP office in the city and it costs nearly £4 return on the bus to get there. Again, that might not sound very much to pay, but claimants live from week to week and rarely have a penny left before the next payment arrive. Additionally, many people who either haven’t got a phone (all our local phone boxes rarely work) or who cannot afford the bus fare face living days without food, electricity and gas. A neighbour, a former miner who never found regular work after the pits closed around here, used to walk to the city, a good 7 miles away, in order to obtain his money.

    The system was already flawed; all in all it is just another example of those at the top not having the first idea about how hard it is when you have no private income or a well off family to fall back on.