Social Fund places financial burden on councils

The Social Fund is loading significant costs on to councils in terms of payments and staff time, a Local Government Association-commissioned report has claimed.

The study finds authorities are having to provide direct grant assistance to people wrongly denied Social Fund help while social workers and welfare rights officers are expending time on advising clients and helping them with appeals.

Drawing on a literature review and interviews in three councils, author Professor Gary Craig, from Hull University’s centre for social inclusion and social justice, said: “It is clear that the fund has negative effects on local government, most of all in the human and financial resources which are expended on supporting clients whose legitimate claims for help have been rejected by the Social Fund.”

He blamed the fund’s “capped budget and poor decision-making”, saying the report supported a research consensus showing the system was “unfair, wasteful and demeaning”.

However, he said there was insufficient evidence to calculate the precise costs on councils.

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