10 January 2012 | By Carl Brown, Inside Housing

Government plans to abolish parts of a fund to help vulnerable people have been slammed by 20 organisations. The coalition government plans to remove crisis loans and community care grants from the social fund and transfer administration to councils.

The organisations, in a joint letter to the Guardian newspaper and welfare reform minister Lord David Freud, warn that this could leave vulnerable people with little or no support.

The letter said: ‘Crisis loans and community care grants are the ultimate safety net for the most vulnerable in society. For example, they enable women and children fleeing domestic violence to clothe themselves and furnish their homes or parents in rural areas who cannot afford a car to visit their child if they are taken into hospital unexpectedly. We are deeply concerned at the government’s proposals to abolish these elements of the social fund and pass some of the funding to local authorities, without any statutory obligation to ensure they provide emergency support to vulnerable people.’

The letter’s signatories include the National Housing Federation, Crisis, Homeless Link, St Mungo’s and the Child Poverty Action Group.

The social fund reform proposals are likely to be debated when the Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘We’re reforming the social fund because it is too complex and poorly targeted. Local authorities are best placed to deliver this support and will ensure that it goes to those most in need. People will now benefit from local knowledge and wider support services.’

The letter’s signatories include the National Housing Federation, Crisis, Homeless Link, St Mungo’s and the Child Poverty Action Group.

The social fund reform proposals are likely to be debated when the Welfare Reform Bill returns to the House of Lords on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘We’re reforming the social fund because it is too complex and poorly targeted. Local authorities are best placed to deliver this support and will ensure that it goes to those most in need. People will now benefit from local knowledge and wider support services.’

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