This is a report concluding that the Social Fund is failing to provide for the emergency needs of millions of people on low incomes. It is based on an analysis of Social Fund budgets and spending; accounts of the experiences of benefit claimants; and a discussion of the increasing number of requests for help from charitable sources. The report evaluates a number of previous research studies of the Social Fund. It demonstrates that the existing safety net to provide for the urgent needs of families and others on benefit is inadequate. It also analyzes a number of alternative proposals to the problems caused by the Social Fund from political parties, academics and policy bodies and suggests that there is urgent need for reform.