Letter: Poor become poorer

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The Independent Online
Sir: Today's article 'Income of the poorest fell 6 per cent in Eighties' (16 July) does not surprise the Family Welfare Association Grants Committee.

The FWA's Grants Committee distributed nearly pounds 700,000 in grants last year, yet we have to close to new applicants for weeks at a time because we are swamped with applications from people in desperate need - like the family with four children who lost all their belongings in a house fire.

At one time, despite their poverty, they would have been eligible for a single payment towards these needs. But these payments have been replaced by the Social Fund with its discretionary payments and loans. The family were refused a community care grant as they were not a high priority. They were refused a loan as they were repaying an earlier one.

This is just one example taken from our post bag - and those of similar charities - on a daily basis, with applications pouring in from social workers on behalf of their clients for children's clothing, beds, bedding, cookers and other basic requirements.

The problem was not confined to the Eighties. We believe that the start of the Nineties has shown an ever-widening gap between rich and poor.

Yours faithfully,

GAYNOR HUMPHREYS

Director of Trusts and

Information

Family Welfare Association

London, E8

16 July

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