§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what help is available from the social fund to people on income support who have suffered loss and damage as a result of the recent flooding in the Folkestone area; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Roger Evans
Disaster relief following any such crisis is essentially a matter for the relevant local authority. However, help is available through the social fund in the form of community care grants, budgeting loans and crisis loans. The particular circumstances of each application will determine which type of payment may be made. Access to crisis loans is not restricted to people on income support. Applications to the social fund are dealt with, as speedily as possible, by specially trained social fund officers who look carefully at the individual circumstances surrounding each application and use discretion and flexibility when forming their decisions.
On 22 November, Channel district reported a total of 28 community care grant awards had been made to people most affected by the flooding, at a cost of £13,392. I have therefore agreed that an additional allocation of 13,392, should be made immediately to reimburse Channel's community care grant budget.766W
Although it is not possible to provide the estimates as a percentage of average earnings, Pensim estimates are based on a number of economic and behavioural assumptions, in particular that average earnings increase by 1.5 per cent. per year above prices. Real average earnings are therefore assumed to increase by almost 60 per cent. between 1994 and 2025. It is important to note, however, that earnings growth is likely to vary widely between quintiles of the working age population.
Due to the reliance on assumptions and the time period covered, estimates should be treated with caution, and have been heavily rounded. Further details of the methodology and assumptions used by Pensim are outlined in GES working paper No. 129 "Pensim: A Dynamic Simulation Model of Pensioner Incomes". Copies are available in the Library.