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The use of the standard budget to evaluate need in public assistance : a review of budgeting procedures in British Columbia as they pertain to recipients of social assistance and mothers' allowances Ralph, Edmund Vernard

Abstract

The primary considerations in the administration of public assistance are (a) the method by which the need of a recipient is determined, and (b) what level of living the assistance should provide for the recipient. The purpose of this study has been to analyze the present policies for evaluating financial need in the mothers' allowances and the social assistance programs in British Columbia. The adjustment of an assistance grant to supplement a recipient's resources up to an amount that will permit the maintenance of health and decency, involves the use of accurate, efficient, and equitable administrative policies. The standard budget is accepted in this study as being the most effective administrative device for the determination of need and the amount of the grant. The budget standards formulated in this study include food, clothing and personal items. The content of the food standard and its pricing is the work of the Nutrition Service of the Vancouver Metropolitan Health Committee. The content of the clothing budget is developed from the Toronto Welfare Council's study, A Guide to Family Spending, (1949). Several changes are made to simplify this standard as compared with the Toronto allowances. The personal items standard is compiled from the writer's own judgement of the content, replacement and prices for minimum personal needs. Standards for other requirements are reviewed, and the methods by which adequate allowances could be calculated for these more difficult budget items are discussed; but no study of prices is made. The use of a standard budget in the administration of public assistance is of little value unless proper administrative policies are used to define how these standards should be used, and also to determine accurately the amount of resources available to a recipient. An evaluative survey of the present policies for determining need serves to show certain discrepancies and requirements in the administrative direction in them. Three areas in particular are given consideration, (a) the exemptions and deductions method of evaluating a recipient's resources; in some ways this is a contradictory policy and may have no relationship to the need of the recipient, (b) the stress that is placed upon the group method of allowance may result in an unrealistic determination of need, (c) the present policy is incomplete, and this raises problems of interpretation. The study leads to four major suggestions: (a) A revision of the present method for determining need seems warranted. (b) This revision should include the use of the standard budget, and should provide for more specific policies on evaluating resources, (c) The group method of allowance is recommended as a special application of the budget deficit method, which ordinarily uses individual allowances, (d) A study committee should be appointed by the Vancouver Community Chest and Council to review the need for a Vancouver Minimum Standard Budget, and continue with its formulation if deemed necessary.

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