§ Ms Ruddock
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the outstanding balance of loans and grants of the Lewisham and Brixton district social fund for the financial year 1993–94; how many applications for a grant were refused, giving the reasons for refusal; how many applications for a loan were refused, giving the reasons for refusal; how many applicants refused went on to appeal; and how many of these appeals were successful.
§ 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 Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 5 May 1994:692WThe Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Social Fund (SF) in the Benefits Agency's (BA) Lewisham and Brixton District.The balance outstanding on the Social Fund budgets at Lewisham and Brixton District as at 31 March 1994 at the end of the financial year was £295.36 for grants and £19,267.36 for loans. This is an expenditure of 99.97 per cent. and 99.4 per cent. respectively.With regard to the number of grant and loan applications refused in the District, at the end of the financial year 1993–94 the numbers of grant and loan applications refused were 8,875 and 7,475 respectively.The Social Fund Computer System (SFCS), introduced to Lewisham and Brixton in July 1993, collects different statistics compared to the old system and are not directly comparable with previous years. The old system recorded reasons for refusal per application whereas the SFCS records reasons for refusal per item applied for, most applications being for more than one item. As such, in cases where a partial award is made, a reason for refusal will also be appropriate. Therefore, the sum of all reasons for refusal will not equal the number of application refusals. The reasons for item refusal are given at Annex A.There is no right of appeal against discretionary SF decisions. Applicants dissatisfied with a decision may seek a review of the decision and this is initially conducted within the District. If still dissatisfied, the applicant can ask for a review by the Independent Review Service (IRS) which is independent of the BA.For the period 1 April 1993 to 31 March 1994, 4,006 review applications were received by Lewisham and Brixton District. These figures include those that requested a review by the IRS. Overall, 1,188 resulted in a changed decision.I hope you find this reply helpful.
Appendix A Details of grant and loan refusals for the Lewisham and Brixton District: 1 April 1993 to 31 March 1994 (latest available data). Reason far Refusal Grants Loans Not in receipt of Income Support (IS) 2,362 2,167 In receipt of IS for less than 26 weeks — 5,281 Direction 4 not satisfied 25,067 — Applicant excluded by Directions — 31 No serious risk to health or safety — 2,382 Requested amount below minimum allowable 14 254 Repeat application 547 1,545 Item excluded by Directions 316 1,404 Alternative item available 57 289 Help available from another source 83 363 Grant awarded on loan request — 1,492 Savings over £500 meet cost 5 7 Savings over £1,000 meet cost (customer or partner over 60) 7 1 Enough money available to meet crisis — 17 Total debt exceeds £1,000 — 68 Inability to repay — 1,738 Insufficient priority 390 943 Other reasons 27 135