§ Mr. Milburn
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications for(a) social fund grants and (b) social fund loans, that met the criteria, were refused because of budgetary constraints in each social security office in the United Kingdom in each year since 1989–90.
§ Mr. Scott
The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Alan Milburn, dated 11 July 1994:576WThe Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about Social Fund (SF) applications refused on grounds of budgetary constraints in the United Kingdom since 1989–90.I have confined my answer to the former Department of Social Security Local Offices and Benefits Agency Districts, as questions concerning Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.I should explain that District budgets, which must not be exceeded, have to be managed so that, as far as possible, similar levels of need can be met throughout the year. Therefore, Social Fund Officers (SFOs) ensure that the highest priority needs are met whilst adopting as consistent an approach as possible.
Appendix 1 IVB recipients in Birmingham Date March 1992 March 1993 March 1994 Birmingham Chamberlain 4,502 4,991 5,917 Birmingham Heartlands 1— 1— 7,377 Birmingham North West 4,849 5,433 5,803 Birmingham South East 5,941 7,030 8,205 Birmingham South West 4,836 5,303 6,335 Total 26,297 30,742 33,637 1The figures relating to IVB cases recordced for this District for these two years were incorrectly collated due to administrative error in the District concerned, and have therefore been omitted. The figure provided for March 1994 gives the true figure at that date.
Appendix 2 Disability premium recipients in Birmingham Date March 1992 March 1993 March 1994 Birmingham Chamberlian 2,193 2,730 3,323 Birmingham Heartlands 2,057 2,599 2,913 Birmingham North West 2,068 2,519 2,993 Birmingham South East 2,104 2,434 2,716 Birmingham South West 2,087 2,596 3,064 Total 10,509 12,878 15,009Information for the year 1989–90 is not available by Local Office but you may wish to know that the number of loans and grants refused nationally on the grounds of insufficient priority in that year was 138,997 and 50,342 respectively.Details of loans and grants refused on grounds of insufficient priority for the year 1990–91 by former Departmental Local Office and for the years 1991–92 to 1993–94 by Benefits Agency District are enclosed and copies have been placed in the Library under the heading Department of Social Security, Social Fund, Applications Refused on the Grounds of Budgetary Constraints 1990–91—1993–94.The new Social Fund Computer System (SFCS) introduced in 1993–94, collects additional statistics which were not held on the old system. Many statistical items are collected differently and are not directly comparable with previous years. The previous system recorded reasons for refusal per application whereas SFCS records reasons for refusal per item requested. In cases where a partial award is made a reason for refusal will also be appropriate. As SFCS was introduced into Districts on a rollout basis throughout the year, the figures for 1993–94 will be a combination of the information held on the two systems.I hope you find this reply helpful.