Social Fund use amongst older people

Authors: Professor Elaine Kempson, Sharon Collard, Sally Taylor
Funded by: Department for Work and Pensions
Published by: Corporate Document Services
Publication date: 2002
Report number: DWP Research Report No 172
ISBN: 1841234850

The Labour Government has introduced a number of measures to tackle poverty among people over pension age, and the new Pension Service aims to provide an integrated service for the delivery of benefits and information to this group by 2004. The Social Fund has an important part to play in tackling pensioner poverty but, to date, take-up among older people is far lower than it is among other eligible groups.

This research was commissioned to provide an understanding of the reasons for take-up and non-take-up of the discretionary Social Fund (Community Care Grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans) among older people as, in 2002, take-up among older people was far lower than it was among other eligible groups. The research was also designed to explore ways of addressing the barriers to take-up by this group.

The study was qualitative and based on 37 depth interviews (19 with people who had received either a loan or a grant from the Social Fund and 18 who had not), followed by two focus groups - one with Social Fund applicants and the other with non-applicants.

The report explores living standards among older people receiving Minimum Income Guarantee; the extent and levels of saving and borrowing; past and current needs that could have been met through the Social Fund; knowledge of, and attitudes to, the Social Fund; and the use made of the Social Fund by older people. The report concludes by examining ways of increasing Social Fund take-up among older people.

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