The Great Social Fund Robbery

make-the-rich-payThe demolition of the Social Fund, the system of loans and grants used to support people on low incomes in an emergency, or to help people rebuild shattered lives, begins in earnest in just two months.

Whilst the Bedroom Tax and Council Tax Benefit cuts have grabbed the headlines, this nasty little reform will be devastating for those in the most difficult circumstances.

Whether it’s young people leaving care and moving into a flat for the first time, people leaving supported housing to live independently, or those whose lives have been ravaged by fire, flood , crime or homelessness, the Social Fund has provided scant though vital support in a crisis.  Much of this is to be swept away as Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants are handed over to Local Authorities to administer.  How this will work is currently anyone’s guess, as most of them have yet to publish any details of how they will manage the new scheme which is due to begin in less than two months.

Funding has been made available to local councils to provide some form of emergency support, but there is no requirement on them to spend it this way.  With many Councils already desperately short of funds it is inevitable that much of this money is likely to be swallowed up to cover other shortfalls.

There are currently three types of payments made from the Social Fund.  These are Budgeting Loans, Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans.  Crisis Loans are split into two types: ‘alignment payments’ paid out when someone is awaiting a benefits decision, and loans to cover household emergencies.  The average Crisis Loan is just £50 and according to DWP documents (PDF)  around two thirds of loans (66%) were ‘alignment payments’ in 2009/10.

Budgeting Loans, which are interest free loans claimants may be eligible for to cover household expenses, such as a new oven, are to be brought under the Universal Credit regime, along with ‘alignment payments’.  Predictably, clear details of how this will work in practice are not yet available.

Community Care grants and emergency Crisis Loans will now be managed by local councils.  In 2011/12 Community Care Grants cost £139.2 million.  Crisis Loans in total cost a further £133 million, which suggests around a third, £44 million (based on the previous year’s figures, none for this period appear to be available) went towards emergency payments.  This makes a total of £183 million of the kind of payments which will be handed over to Local Authorities to manage.  Despite this just £178 million will be available to local councils.

Now this looks like a cut, and if you happen to be trying to claim a Crisis Loan it is.  But like so many of Iain Duncan Smith’s bodged reforms, this will actually end up costing the tax payer more money.

The key word is ‘loan’.  As every claimant knows, Crisis Loans are recovered from benefits, meaning repayments are almost impossible to avoid.  This is backed up by the DWP’s own Social Fund Annual Report 2011/12 (PDF)  which clearly states:

“Loan recoveries during the year were £607.5 million against a cautious forecast of recovery of £590 million at the beginning of 2011/12. Recoveries provided 100% of the funds needed to meet gross loans expenditure.”

Local councils will not have the same powers to recover loans, and most of those that are actually bothering to think about the imminent reforms are looking into voucher or smart card systems.  So instead of a centralised, moderately efficient, interest free loan scheme for claimants, there is to be a chaotic postcode lottery which will cost more than the system it is replacing.  It seems that despite banker imposed austerity, when it comes to attacking the poorest and most vulnerable Iain Duncan Smith has been handed a blank cheque by the Treasury.

Already IDS had slashed Crisis Loans by viciously cutting the amount deemed necessary to survive from 75% of single person’s benefits to 60% – just £42 a week.  And now they are likely to be cut again, with no legal protection if Council’s simply decide to trouser the cash to spend on the Mayor’s breakfast budget. Whilst claimants are no longer likely to have to pay money back, that will be of cold comfort to someone who’s been burnt out of their flat and is fobbed off with a paltry Poundstretchers voucher from the local council.

The impact on Community Care grants is likely to be equally devastating.  Already the grants are notoriously difficult to access.  Now in some parts of the UK they could disappear completely.  This could mean a young person leaving care and moving into a bedsit with no money available to buy an oven, a fridge, bedding or even a bed.  As ever it will be disabled people and single parents already in poverty who will bear the brunt of the cuts: 35% of Community Care grants go to disabled people and a further 26% to lone parents.

The great social fund robbery will not affect as many people as the bedroom tax, or the other welfare cuts.  But the people it does affect will be those in society who are desperately in need of help and have nowhere else to turn.  Once again this Government of millionaires are looking down their noses at the very poorest as they proceed to try and kick them to death.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

85 responses to “The Great Social Fund Robbery

  1. Pingback: The Great Social Fund Robbery | The Sealand Gazette |


    Less than 200,000 facebook likes.

    The ‘new’ generation of ‘social media’ users (as named by… The media) are yet to be impressed.

  3. The one everybody seems to miss is the ‘funeral grant’. When this ends up on Council’s doorstep I believe we will end up back with ‘paupers funeral’s’
    Many Council’s have ‘out-sourced’ their crematorium and the prices charged are astronomical. will Council’s do a deal with private companies? What on earth have we come to – back to Victorian values.

  4. whilst they are robbing social funds and community care grants they are giving out grants to home owners for renovations, and extensions to homes that they own, not rent. Most of those that work in the offices or make council decisions or run housing associations own their own houses too, some are even bagging the best homes for their own children to eventually buy and move on from. Bloody disgraceful.

  5. Pingback: The Great Social Fund Robbery | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |

  6. daniel hannan is a traitor basically…thats it…

  7. i had a friend that worked for a housing association and he bragged that after shagging the housing officer he got a nice flat for himself, it’s been going on for years and there all corrupt b*****ts, what can be done who knows

  8. sorry but i just got annoyed,,, i was in sainsburys just now buying some food..which is hard as ive not been eating well..i went through auto check out and paid for my stuff,,,then i noticed the free bags are rubbish as they split easily the staff know this,,so i took a stronger bag ..a staff bod came rushing over abnd said ”you got to pay for that bag!”” which meant me putting the bag throught the auto sum 10p…being deducted from my debit card,,,,the free bags are know to be pollutants i showed them the free bags are rubbish by showing how they split easily and was accused of dleiberatley destroying the bag…by then i felt like telling them to stuff it keep the goods and the money..
    the staff offred to pay for the non free bag making me look like a miser..eventually i found 10p and staff bagged up the stuff..but to be honest its like they will charge for walking around the place before long..

  9. Gross – but funny! -

    • @kittycat…i dont blame the guy….he was giving them the crap that they gave him..

    • He should have worn a balaclava when he did it so he woulden’t be as likely to be caught. I don’t normally support crime, but job centre people deserve that sort of crap because of the crap that they put other people through.

      • @johnny void kittycat guy fawkes shirleynott and all. I just wonder how capita will administer the social fund. Will claimants be assessed? I dread to think how this will be run by them if its like atos and the game is to deny any benefits then god help us..

  10. There’s corruption everywhere but it should be exposed when the public are paying their salaries.

    look at ‘andy and mark’ response on this blog…

    why should we have and NHS state stalinist’ control of health care..bollocks…trolls methinks..

  12. Last year i came across a report from a private security firm reporting on DPAC protest at time of paralympics under the heading SECURITY..
    of late i saw the youtube video of a protest by DPAC and police went in mob handed i think..but why would that info be of interest to commerical outlets,,enough to sell it?


    “Our solution

    Capita’s bespoke Social Fund solution will support local authorities through these changes. It is specifically designed to administer, manage and process crisis loans and community care grants on behalf of local authorities while offering both flexible pricing and delivery options to meet individual needs.

    By combining innovative technology, automated verification processes and skilled resources, our solution enables local authorities to deliver an efficient 24/7 Social Fund provision which maximises available funding, while remaining sensitive and responsive to the needs of customers.
    The benefits

    With the flexibility to tailor services to individual requirements and policies, we enable you to provide a truly local service with the following benefits:

    * Maximised funding
    * Process efficiencies
    * Transparent financial management
    * Economies of scale in procurement
    * Better resource allocation
    * Enhanced customer satisfaction.

    As the UK’s leading provider of revenues and benefits services to local government we have the scale and expertise to provide flexible and tailored solutions which deliver efficiency benefits. With experience of administering welfare benefits and other discretionary payments we are well placed to offer a truly local scheme that is also simple for the citizen to use. “

  14. why the fuck have we got a govt? it sesm to me that corporations are running just about everything…its like the govt dont want to do the fucking job and just hand it out to any company that pays them enough in donations…

    • I don’t use wikipedia for fact, I use it as guidance. Just to get a rough idea of a topic.

      ie, what is a high steward and their role?

  15. apart from a sly tory donation it must show the tories poor taste in music…wierd…

    • It means 1 of 2 things:

      1) Expect proposed draconian anti-piracy laws which will make our internet access worse than China’s.

      2) Someone at Universal hates the Conservative party and hoped (but failed? Depends how many passes they got?) to inflict pain and suffering on them by the worst possible means; a Justin Bieber concert. *shudders*


    Click to access Delivering%20the%20social%20fund%20-%20%20London.pdf


    “The official position, that localising the assessment of need will somehow enable smarter targeting of resources, is blithely asserted without a scrap of evidence or even argument. Whitehall scores savings for outsourcing responsibility for social fund grants which help vulnerable people live independently, without taking any account of the vastly higher costs of residential care. Some ministers have clocked that there is a real problem here, but they are blocked – by Eric Pickles’s pig-headed refusal to countenance any new duties on councils – from doing anything more than writing a stiff letter to beg town halls to provide a replacement. Peers have a last chance to back an amendment which would at least make town halls accountable – requiring them to report on the loans and grants they provide, and enabling Whitehall to act if they are not providing enough.

    As with George Osborne’s vicious benefit cap – which punishes children for being born into big families, also up for debate today – what is shocking is that plans to make the poor poorer could glide through cabinet committees and then the Commons. Mostly wealthy individuals representing wealthy constituencies, the cabinet displayed little concern, less compunction – and met little resistance. Whereas the Liberal Democrats belatedly reacted against the health bill, over welfare they mostly toed the line until Paddy Ashdown’s intervention yesterday. This week’s divisions provide a desperately needed chance for them to rescue a few progressive credentials.”

  18. “There is historical irony in the great coalition of charities now rallying to save the social fund. Most of them, like the Guardian, protested bitterly at the 1980s legislation which set it up to replace the old system of grants for costly but unavoidable purchases, from cookers to cots. Grudgingly given, cash-limited and often in the form of a loan that must be repaid, the fund is the opposite of generous. Neither the Thatcher government nor its critics in the charities, however, ever countenanced that the scheme would not merely be tightened but scrapped, as the coalition now proposes. Some part of the funding is being shunted towards town halls, but, with no real obligation to spend the cash on the vulnerable as opposed to soothing their strapped finances, only a fool would bet on councils stepping into the breach. After all, even the noblest borough would be wary of getting a reputation for looking after the penniless particularly well, and thereby becoming a magnet for them.”

    NO DOUBT THIS IS WHY IS OUTSOURCE TO THE LIKES OF CRAPITA ET AL…to remove the ‘stigma’ for being a ‘poor’ borough’?and have all the se waif and strays showing up?

    but where will crapita get the money from to pay these penniless urchins?

    • bobchewie, which bit of welfare reform did Paddy Ashdown speak out against?

      • Ps. Every time I hear the name ‘Eric Pickles’ I cringe. (I think we may be originally from the same place but – hopefully – he would be horrified he knew that).

      • @shirleynott I am not sure is it not mentioned in the guardian article I posted the link to. I think that capita getting the social fund contract is pretty disgusting . How much are they getting paid for it. The idea of them paying out forty quid to some poor sod and getting it back ( with interest?) is bad enough . They will in effect be like a bank .

        • Thanks I’ve read it now.

          Ashdown told Sky News “.. he would vote against the coalition when amendments came before peers because of concerns over how the measures would affect the poorest people. “I have voted with the government on everything until now,” he said. “I see my job as ex-leader to support my successor, but I will not support the benefits cap in its present form. This legislation, in its present form, I cannot accept.” He suggested that, behind the scenes, senior Lib Dems including Clegg were pushing “very hard” for measures to help those most dependent on benefits to cope with the changes and prevent them falling into hardship almost overnight. “I am president of Unicef, and I think the effect on children across the country of a cap in its present form will be completely unacceptable.”

          Meanwhile, Clegg told the BBC he was willing to look at how the changes were implemented but “completely backed” Duncan Smith on the principle of the c(r)ap. Areas that could be examined included “the place of children who were born, if you like, innocently into another set of rules” “The basic principle that that cap should be £500 [per week] so that you can’t, on benefits, earn more than if you went out and worked – I think that’s got to be a simple principle that most people would subscribe to.”

          – (It doesn’t HAVE to be. But it is ‘simple’).

          Chris Grayling also acknowledged that some families would be forced to find new accommodation as a result of the changes. “There certainly will be people who have to move house as a result of this, who have to move to a part of town they can afford to live in, but surely that is right,”

          – (“Certainly will be” in this context meant as a threat).

          Duncan Smith admitted his plans for a cap on working age benefits of £500 a week or £26,000 a year – equivalent to the average wage earned by working households – could be defeated in the Lords. The former Tory leader acknowledged the result of the vote could depend on independent crossbenchers, including the bishops. “My sense is that unless I can persuade them that they’re in the wrong place on this one, which they are, then they might be tempted to vote against it. It’s down to the crossbenchers”.

          (Does it help anyone to know this? Will enough bishop/other independent crossbenchers prove to be halfway-human?)

  19. As social housing is still under government control, although the government are saying housing benefit is being reduced, it is supposedly given back by other means as discretionary payments.
    The truth is, social housing that is being rented out has been paid for 10 times over by rentees over the years, repairs are kept to a minimum with tenants having to replace a lot of things themselves and renovations are performed with government grants. So the whole idea of money being denied and then given back via social funds etc. if it ever does is just one big con. They should be giving the houses to those that have been tenants of them for 25 years or more.

  20. Its like being pushed towards the edge of a cliff.

    They obviously think they can do anything they like to us and we won’t react.
    I think we’re getting near the point of no return.

    • They think we will make like lemmings:-

      “Known for cyclical population explosions that occur approximately every four years. During such a peak, the population may multiple a thousandfold and food becomes scarce, forcing enormous groups to migrate to newer territories, with fewer bedrooms.

      While migrating, some lemmings do fall off cliffs or drown, but these deaths are accidental and are caused by venturing into unfamiliar areas, rather than suicidal tendencies.

      • I thought disney encouraged them to jump or threw them into the sea.
        A bit like our present regime..

        • Disney wouldn’t do anything to upset small children (unless it was very lucrative), would they??

          Lemmings generally thought to rush to commit suicide en masse, but
          (?apparently) this is a myth – It’s more that their numbers gradually decline in response to ‘outside forces’ making them relocate. They try to jump before they’re pushed, and some injure themselves (even die) in the process – But This Is The Right Thing To Do and It Is Only Fair!!

          Not advocating moving before pushed in this case;
          So lemmings might not be the best role models – but at least they don’t unquestioningly accept whatever’s thrown at them without trying to defend their right to a life …
          (still prefer Madagascar 3 though).

  21. chewie

    If in a position to receive anything from the social fund, we should apply and see how many are awarded anything, then report back to this site, that’s if we’re still on line due to no benefits etc.

    • @guy fawkes its not rolled out till April. But already its starting to look like atos assessment time with ‘effective customer filtering and appeals. God help us.

  22. 💀Fauré's requiem played forever

    Pickles the Fat : evil, thieving Dickensian beadle.
    Along with all the other thieving bastards ripping off The ConDemNation.

  23. The Shadow State -

  24. Pingback: MPs Attack ATOS: DWP and Government to Blame. « Ipswich Unemployed Action.

  25. Landless Peasant

    I’m just wondering if there’s any advantage to be gained by quickly applying for a Budgeting Loan now to cover the coming year’s Bedroom Tax and Council Tax? In total it will cost me about £750 per year for the two taxes combined.But it would be deducted from my Dole/JSA anyway, so the only advantage I can foresee is if I happen to get sanctioned in that period (which is highly possible). If you are sanctioned, and living on Hardship, they wouldn’t be able to deduct the loan from your Hardship payment.

  26. How pathetic are you that you can’t take care of yourselves and your family. Depending on benefits for your survival shows a pathetic, parasitic blood sucking brat with not an ounce of backbone and intelligence to make personal decisions that don’t jeopardize their well being.

    • @Robert thornton.
      How kind. It’s an absolute pleasure to have read what you’ve left.
      You sound as though you’d make a great work colleague (for masochists).

      Having said that, how “pathetic” are you that have taken time out from your busy and important day/life to say all of that? You’re probably in great demand as a public speaker and at social gatherings … Hyperbole is a bit last year though. Don’t take this the wrong way (not meaning to appear judgemental at all) – we’ve never been formally introduced but don’t let that bother you – but for everyone’s sake, could it generally be placed on the record that you are (hopefully) not currently working as, or ever do end up working as any of the following:-

      Lollipop person; dog walker; schoolteacher (in particular head); school dinner assistant; nail technician – Retail (at any level); or in a launderette; a pub; a restaurant (any of the service industries); as a traffic warden; ice-cream man; bank clerk; accountant/solicitor (only joking); customer service assistant; pharmacist; doctor; nurse; office cleaner (anything where you need to engage with people from all walks of life – most jobs); careers adviser.

      (Probably self-employment at home by yourself, or maybe something like working with like-minded people at a dodgy “meat” processing factory somewhere outside the UK would be best)?

      Best wishes and thanks again for yours,
      A.N.Other Pathetic, parasitic, blood-sucking etc.

      • @shirleynott basic ground rules.
        1 don’t feed the trolls
        2 you do not talk about fight club
        3 don’t engage vapid attention seekers
        4 don’t feed the trolls
        5 you do not talk about fight club

        Now can we move on and discuss crapita…please…

    • Don’t get too upset, folks, this pillock is probably a silly, little boy, of say 15, with needs to get a life.

    • Landless Peasant

      Robert Thornton:
      Oh but I DO have the intelligence to make personal decisions that don’t jeopardize my well being, which is why I’m not prepared to travel 20 or 30 miles per day by public transport in order to complete a stultifying and utterly demoralizing task, all day every day, in exchange for the National Minimum Wage, whilst simultaneously suffering from a medical condition.
      As for not having any “backbone”, perhaps you should have said that to my father and grandfather, without whom you would now be speaking German, and would not have had any coal or woollen textiles throughout the 20th Century.
      As for being “parasitic”, save that for the multi-millionaire Aristocrats, and their multi-Billionaire chums who pay no tax whilst expecting the likes of me to scrub their shitter for fuck all.

      Do they owe us a living? OF COURSE THEY FUCKING DO!

  27. oh my god. people like Mr Thornton ^^^^^ make me want to die. I don’t want to live in a world where there are people with such hateful, hateful attitudes any more.

    • He’s not worth it. Everyone else on here is 10x the person he will ever be & there will always be (some) sad/mad/bad people. There seem to be a lot more of the opposite kind of people that comment on here, & lots who have been/are in some very difficult places. (Leaving aside Mr.T) this can be a good place to find support and even light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel …

      You’re very brave to talk honestly about how you feel – it’s not everyone who can.

      • Thank you Shirley. You’re right, of course. I just happened upon his comment at the wrong moment. There are days when I really struggle, and this is one. Thank heavens for folk like you. x

  28. With a name like Thornton I would have thought your comments would have been more palatable than the usual right wing chocolate box cliches.

    • @guy fawkes etc the trolls have been let out of their playpen these past few days showing up on blogs to do with health ( nhs bashing) elm guest house ( its all lies and commie plot) and here ( scroungers) its disinfo and tptb are getting concerned they are losing the battle (they are)
      But they can fuck off and be ignored. They are a distraction.
      Ok guys can we get back to crapita role in all this and this atos mk 2 plan.

  29. rainbowwarriorlizzie
  30. Pingback: Food Stamps Abandoned … For Now | the void

  31. Hi …. love your blogs. I was wondering if you knew that in a couple of months there will no longer be ‘Budget loans’ from DWP – I applied late last year and they refused. I reapplied but no luck. My advisor told me last week, they are doing away with that service.

    What next????????????

  32. I seriously appreciate this post. I have been scouting around for this! Thank goodness I found that on Ask. You have made my evening! Thank you once more!

  33. Pingback: DWP Trying to Hide Crisis Loan Replacement | the void


  35. Pingback: Councils in Chaos as Crisis Loans Scrapped | the void

  36. Yes this is disgusting. They mvoing to move help to the vulnerable to councils taking the responsibility away from government, there is no explanation how this cash is distributed, eg. do they get budget per population, per benefit claimant? or fixed per council, this indicates affluent areas will have more funds per person in need and as such probably can help more and poor areas will be stretched especially if councils divert the funds elsewhere, this is happening with the council tax benefit changes, affluent areas are seeing no impact (people keep same benefit), poor areas seeing huge impact people paying 40% or so of tax. I cant see how a postcode lottery has been deemed acceptable surely its a national right to a fixed amount of help not depending on where you live.

  37. I received a letter this week stating that I owe the social fund a sum of £75.41 – no dates given for when this amount was taken, and I know it not to be accurate because the most I have ever received from them in the past is a dismal £30 -£50 max to last an entire week. The fact they can also just take it out of people’s benefits without giving any opportunity to allow people to check if their estimate is correct – sufficient evidence in itself that they are unscrupulous.

    Regardless of where people live in the UK, those in receipt of benefits, are always the most vulnerable, location has little to do with national wealth distribution – Surrey has pockets of poor people for instance, yet it is one of the richest places in England, so those on benefits just as isolated and impoverished as someone north of the ‘Watford gap’ as Bill Bryson once wrote his epic on location and attitude indifferences between the 2 halves of the crooked boot.

    There is also the matter of how local governments and their relationship with the media, take preference with ex-cons who used to work for them – D White a classic example – once employed in a council role with great salary opportunities, stole from her employer as cited in several tabloids, to then blast to fame and freedom after a stint on benefits row. I have also been witness to Action 4 Employment staff whilst unemployed, taking credit for those finding their own jobs and stealing the money owed to job hunters if employment found – this happened to me six years ago and tried to challenge it with the benefits’ officials who simply had no desire or intention to award me with the promised amount of £250 in food vouchers – indicates quite strongly that something is corrupt not just with the benefits shake-up, yet with the whole social unfairness scheme at large.

    What of those of us who do not have family or armies of friends to buy us our wants and needs? – I happen to be in that very same situation and my eBay wish-list a tormenting mocking bird who won’t buy me the gifts I would like to buy myself – impenetrable social hierarchy are strangers not just to the homeless and hungry, yet to anyone and everyone cut off from their own umbilical cords through no fault of their own.

    Perhaps because all of my life I have always been dealt the wrong side of fate, and trying to unearth hidden skills and talents to someday break free of the poverty trap, my disdain of the endless plutocratic cycle this country thrives on power-tripping, I wish to now join ranks with any organized faction that will actively demonstrate against it even if that means I am labelled a communist as I once was as a socialist worker in my youthful ignorance.

    What a fantastic article here, and so pleased to have my say on what I think of it all.

  38. I would like any feedback or comments yet forgot to tick the boxes.

  39. I have been on disability for 38 years with 9 illnesses i had esa assessment last year told im on correct money support esa now we are being told we are facing more assessments i will always be ill my brain is useless it doesent work right we were told long term sick dont need more assessments why is this happening i cabt cope with my rubbish existance as you cant call what i live a life

  40. Keep throwing money at immigrants from the taxes british people have paid.make british people do without thats the way to run this country .give them everything make it a free for all. they threaten us with knives push us around. Shove us out of the way sit in disabled seats. And abuse us by all means spoil them rotten we the british will always come last. angry daughter of a war veteran who fought for this country.

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