[Press and Public Relations] Reforming The Social Fund

November 2001

No 185

University of Leicester one-day conference

Government Minister Malcolm Wicks MP will give a presentation at a University of Leicester conference, “Reforming the Social Fund” on Tuesday 27 November.

The conference, which is organised by the Faculty of Law with the School of Social Work, will take place at the Grand Hotel, Leicester.

There has been much interest in attending, and in addition to a programme of workshops, the Social Fund Commissioner Sir Richard Tilt and Professor of Social Justice at the University of Hull, Professor Gary Craig, will give plenary sessions.

Earlier this year, a House of Commons Select Committee examined the role and operation of the Social Fund. The Committee concluded: “We urge the Government to use the opportunity offered by the reorganisation of DSS to take a radical look at the Social Fund, so that it may work to enhance the strategy to reduce child poverty, rather than work against it.

“At the start of the inquiry, we asked ourselves whether the Social Fund was achieving the aim set for it by past and present Governments. In particular, we asked whether it was helping the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. We have concluded that the scheme in its present format needs urgent overhaul and an injection of funds. Without such action, there is a strong possibility that the wider social policy objectives of the Government will be endangered.” (Social Security Committee, Third Report, ‘The Social Fund’, HC 232, 27 March 2001.)”

Trevor Buck, of the University of Leicester Department of Law, said: “A reform agenda is emerging in relation to both the regulated Social Fund (maternity, funeral and heating expenses) and the discretionary Social Fund schemes (community care grants, budgeting and crisis loans). The Government is in the process of responding to the Select Committee’s recommendations.

“It is therefore timely to convene a one-day conference, which will act as a focus for renewed thinking about the possible reforms to be made to the Social Fund. We believe that our programme of speakers and workshops comprise a unique concentration of expertise in the area.”

The conference is expected to attract welfare rights officers, users of the Social Fund, Department of Work and Pensions staff and academics.

Note to editors: Further information is available from the website, www.le.ac.uk/law/socialfund/ or from: Trevor Buck, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, telephone 0116 252 2375, fax 0116 252 5023, email tgb1@le.ac.uk

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Information supplied by: Barbara Whiteman
Last updated: 23 November 2001 16:12
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