Select Committee on Social Security Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Charitable Trust Corporation, Liverpool Council of Social Service (SF 11)


  1.1  This evidence is submitted on behalf of the Charitable Trust Corporation, Liverpool Council of Social Service (Incorporated), by Canon N A Frayling, Rector of Liverpool, one of the Council's Trustees.

  1.2  Canon Frayling is also Chair of the Merseyside Top-Up Fund which directs some £20,000 a year of payroll and other giving through a group of agency charities to relieve cases of individual hardship. The Rector is also a Trustee of the Liverpool Queen Victoria District Nursing Association, one of the agency charities, which makes grants in aid of sick individuals.

  1.3  All the agency charities which distribute these funds have procedures which ensure that grants are only made under these arrangements in cases where no support has been forthcoming from the Social Fund.

  1.4  An understanding of the desperate need which the Social Fund fails to relieve, and which prior to 1986 the Social Security system might have relieved, can be gained by study of the enclosed publication[2] which describes all the cases relieved by the Top-Up Fund in the period April to September 1999.


  The casting of the Social Fund into its present form following the 1986 Review was driven entirely by the need to reduce public expenditure by capping the amounts available through Exceptional Needs Grants to the growing number of Social Security claimants, and by blunting the effect of take-up campaigns organised by local authorities and welfare charities. The impact of these measures on the lives of the poor has been extremely severe. Time and again charity trustees read of people in desperate need turned down for assistance from the Social Fund because they are considered by officials too poor to repay a loan or because a local office of the Benefits Agency has exhausted its Social Fund allocation. The effect of these decisions has been to roll up the safety net which once stretched beneath the poorest citizen.


  At the time the Social Fund assumed its present role, arrangements for loans and grants were intended to facilitate the Care in the Community programme by making it possible for those leaving long-term hospital care for resettlement in the community to be able to acquire some of the basic goods needed for independent life outside an institution. In fact, the restriction of eligibility under the Social Fund to those in receipt of Income Support meant that many of those desperately vulnerable people in receipt of Invalidity Benefit were unable to access the help they needed. The operation of the Social Fund has, therefore, been ineffective, even in the terms of those who proposed the present arrangements.


  These developments place the trustees of, usually small and local, charities in a peculiarly invidious position. If they make grants to individuals and families whose need is unmet by the Social Fund, they acquiesce in the withdrawal of the State from what has been, for most of the last century, one of its keys tasks; the relief of destitution. If they do not make grants in such cases then they tolerate exactly the immiseration their trusts were established to prevent.

Canon N. A. Frayling

January 2001

2   Top-up Funds for the Relief of Individual Cases of Poverty, United Trusts in Merseyside (PO Box 14, 8 Nelson Road, Edge Hill, Liverpool L69 7AA)-Not Printed. Back

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