§ Mr. Denham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many social fund applications for(a) grants and (b) loans have been turned down in each local office in the Benefits Agency southern territory in each year since 1990–91;
(2) how many social fund applications for (a) grants and (b) loans were turned down even though the applicant fulfilled qualifying criteria due to local budgeting restriction in each local office in the Benefits Agency southern territory in each year since 1990–91.
§ Mr. Roger Evans
[pursuant to his reply, 13 December 1994 column 675–76]: I am advised that Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency, is writing again to clarify his reply of 13 December 1994. I am arranging for a copy of the letter to be placed in the Library with the additional information.
Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. John Denham dated 11 January 1995:
I am writing to clarify the information provided to you in my letter of 13 December 1994 in response to your Parliamentary Question. You asked how many Social Fund grant and loan applications were refused, despite the applicant fulfilling qualifying criteria, due to local budgeting restrictions for each local office in the Benefits Agency Southern Territory in each year since 1990–91.
As previously explained, the new Social Fund Computer System records reasons for refusal for every item refused in an application, unlike its predecessor. The reason for changing the way in which refusals were recorded was to enable customers to receive a more detailed decision which gave reasons for refusal of individual items requested.
As a consequence, the figures for 1993–94 in Annex B (which show the number of refusals for individual items on the grounds of insufficient priority) are greater in some cases than those in Annex A (which show the number of applications refused in their entirety). This means that the figures for 1993–94 contained in the two Annexes are not directly comparable.
Finally, I apologise for the erroneous inclusion of South Cheshire In Annex B.
I hope this explains the position and I apologise for any confusion.