Blunkett outlines welfare reforms

Work and pensions secretary David Blunkett today unveiled a raft of measures to help poorer people save money and access affordable credit.

Announcing an injection of £36m to support credit unions, community development finance institutions and other third sector lenders, Blunkett told delegates at the Labour party conference in Brighton that he wanted to “end the scourge of the loan shark”.

The funding forms part of the government’s financial inclusion programme, which aims to allow people to access loans at affordable rates and which the government sees as crucial to overcoming child and family poverty.

Blunkett also confirmed that, from April next year, the Social Fund would get an extra £210m over the next three years for loans.

“For those seeking help through the social fund, an additional £210m means loans will be increased, repayment periods will be extended, repayment rates reduced, and administration simplified,” Blunkett said.

The threshold above which savings are counted for people claiming certain benefits would also be doubled from next April, he said.

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