The impact and graduated table of poorness in the United Kingdom has created an acute demand for a strategy such as the discretional societal fund. As Dixon and Macarov ( 1998 ) have pointed out: ‘Large-scale and long-run unemployment has become an constituted characteristic of life in the contemporary UK, sabotaging both life criterions and single assurance and morale… [ 1 ] ’ . However, concerns about the present system have been raised and some including the National Council for One Parent Families and the Family Welfare Association have even argued that the discretional societal fund system is in demand of pressing reform. This essay will foreground and analyze these concerns and will contextualise them by looking at the wider political, economic and societal model of the United Kingdom. This will let for an analysis of whether the broad societal policy aims of the authorities would be endangered in the absence of a reform of the discretional societal fund system.
What is the discretional societal fund?
The fund was set up in 1988 to back up people who were in the lowest income bracket in the UK, on a discretional footing and in making so to operationalise a cardinal societal policy aim of the authorities ; to cut down poorness. When the strategy was introduced it was the government’s purpose that a big portion of the money paid out under the discretional societal fund strategy was to be recouped from those who benefit from the strategy. This policy has remained unchanged since the origin of the strategy, and the aim of cut downing poorness continues to be a nucleus dogma and aim of the government’s societal policy system. The intent and construction of the discretional societal fund has been elaborated upon in the undermentioned footings in a authorities publication:
‘The Discretionary Social Fund can offer interest-free loans and grants to those who are unable to run into the costs of indispensable equipment from their hebdomadal benefits or income. If you have nest eggs of over Â£500 ( or Â£1000 if aged 60 or over ) this may impact the sum you are offered. The Social Fund is split into two subdivisions: the regulated fund and the discretional fund. The Regulated Fund means that people are lawfully entitled to a payment if you meet the demands. You can besides appeal determinations to a court. The Discretionary Fund is budget-led and payments are discretional. The undermentioned aid is available: Discretionary Social Fund a ) Community Care Grant B ) Budgeting Loan and degree Celsius ) Crisis Loans… . [ 2 ] ’ .
The discretional societal fund besides makes proviso for regulated payments such as certain start pregnancy grants, funeral payments, cold conditions payments and winter fuel payments.
Is the system in demand of reform?
Possibly the biggest unfavorable judgment of the discretional societal fund is that it perpetuates poorness by promoting hapless people to acquire into debt. As we have seen explained above, the bulk of payments from the discretional societal fund are in the signifier of budgeting loans and crisis loans. Certain reforms of the system have hence been proposed by histrions with an involvement in the societal public assistance sector, and these proposals include giving greater support to the discretional societal fund and presenting a broader scope of grants for vulnerable groups such as kids, the aged and individual parents. However, it is ill-defined how far these proposals would travel towards shuting the spread between rich and hapless in the UK, and in visible radiation of this 1 must profess that the broad societal policy aims of the authorities may non be endangered in the absence of major inspection and repair and a hard currency injection of financess in the discretional societal fund. It must be remembered that the demands of and aid available to those in the lowest income bracket in the UK are non entirely served and provided for through the discretional societal fund.
The discretional societal fund system is bolstered through the attempts of many groups and strategies, including those organised through the voluntary sector such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. Indeed, as Kendall ( 2003 ) has noted: ‘It is frequently claimed that the British voluntary sector is ‘unique’ or even a ‘beacon’ to other states in Europe and in the universe ( for illustration, Home Office, 1993 ; Blair, 2002 ) … [ 3 ] ’ , and noting on the quality of these administrations, Amin et Al. ( 2002 ) have noted: ‘While administrations may be run as efficient concerns, their premier involvement does non lie in profit-maximisation, but in constructing societal capacity… [ 4 ] ’ . It must besides be remembered that public assistance payments for the hapless are funded with finite authorities resources. Therefore, the designation of insufficiencies in the current discretional fund system must be ameliorated by the recognition that there are many groups and strategies within society that may merit hard currency injections and major inspection and repair. Consequently, the government’s societal policy aim of cut downing poorness may be met through authorities support of any of these groups, and which groups receive the support and resources of authorities must be based on a cold cost/benefit analysis.
In decision hence, there will ever be argument over where authorities resources are best placed and while the restructuring and fiscal support of the discretional societal fund is surely desirable, it is non clear that the absence of its reform would take to the hazard of the government’s wider societal policy aims, as has been suggested by the Social Security Committee.
Dixon, J. and Macarov, D. ( 1998 )Poverty: A Persistent Global World. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.
Amin, A. , Cameron, A. and Hudson, R. ( 2002 )Puting the Social Economy. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.
Anonymous ( 2006 )The Discretionary Social Fund. Available at: & lt ; & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //18.104.22.168/search? q=cache: mduPLgSQSPoJ: www.mssociety.org.uk/document.rm % 3Fid % 3D854+discretionary+social+fund & A ; hl=en & A ; ct=clnk & A ; cd=6 & gt ; & gt ; .
Kendall, J. ( 2003 )The Voluntary Sector: Comparative Positions in the UK. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.
[ 1 ] p210. Dixon, J. and Macarov, D. ( 1998 )Poverty: A Persistent Global World. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.
[ 2 ] Anonymous ( 2006 )The Discretionary Social Fund. Available at:
& lt ; & lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: //22.214.171.124/search? q=cache: mduPLgSQSPoJ: www.mssociety.org.uk/document.rm % 3Fid % 3D854+discretionary+social+fund & A ; hl=en & A ; ct=clnk & A ; cd=6 & gt ; & gt ; .
[ 3 ] p4. Kendall, J. ( 2003 )The Voluntary Sector: Comparative Positions in the UK. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.
[ 4 ] p1. Amin, A. , Cameron, A. and Hudson, R. ( 2002 )Puting the Social Economy. Publisher: Routledge. Topographic point of Publication: London.