Wednesday 21 February 2007

Reforming the Social Fund

The Resolution Foundation hosted a policy seminar at the House of Commons on 21 February 2007 to discuss options for reforming the Social Fund by attracting private investment to expand the provision of affordable loans under the scheme.

Reflecting on discussions with a number of organisations since publishing his pamphlet in October 2006, David Blunkett set out a number of key principles that should underpin reform. Kate Green followed David, outlining a number of problems with the Social Fund as it currently operates from the point of view of its clients. She welcomed efforts to link tackling poverty with promoting financial inclusion, however, she stressed the importance of ensuring that people have adequate incomes in the first place and that increasing access to affordable credit is not a substitute for this. Matthew Pike and Judith Miara then presented a model for attracting private investment to expand the availability of loans under the Social Fund.

The discussion that followed was largely inconclusive. Although comments indicated a consensus that the Social Fund is not currently doing enough to meet the needs of its clients, opinions about the priorities for reform appeared to be divided.