Womack, Sarah. "Give loans to the poor, says Rowling," Telegraph, 15 April 2002

J K ROWLING, the author of the Harry Potter best-sellers, has attacked the Government in the run-up to the Budget for its treatment of single parents.

The multi-millionairess and former single mother, whose support has been courted by Labour strategists, said ministers had left the poorest lone parents deeper in debt. She called for reform of the Social Fund, an emergency loans scheme helping the poor with basic items such as beds, cookers and cots.

Eighty per cent of the money paid by the fund is in the form of loans, but many applicants are deemed too poor to qualify. Those helped are often forced below benefit levels to meet repayments.

Miss Rowling, 36, said loans should be replaced with a programme of Child Development Grants focused on providing essentials for a decent home. She also wanted Opportunity Grants to help parents move from welfare to work by assisting with work-related costs such as upfront child care bills and work clothes.

Her criticisms came in a foreword to a report by three charities, the National Council for One Parent Families, the Family Welfare Association and the Child Poverty Action Group.

They follow the disclosure last week that the Government had only lifted 500,000 children out of poverty, not the 1.2 million it had claimed.