This volume does not purport to be a complete evaluation of the social fund. Rather, it provides a description of how the social fund was operated by DSS local offices in the first three months of 1990. The material is nevertheless relevant to some recurrent themes in the history of official attempts to respond to exceptional financial needs of low income families: the meaning and use of discretion; the idea of "genuine need"; the possibility of fairness; the patterns of local variation and differential access; administrative complexity; and the difficulty of containing expenditure.
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