This paper discusses an episode in social security policy making that has until now remained unexplored. This is the review, at the request of then Labour Secretary of State for Social Services, Richard Crossman MP, in the latter months of 1969 and early 1970 into the possibility of introducing loans to the Supplementary Benefit system as a replacement for some exceptional needs and exceptional circumstances payments. The paper examines files held at the National Archives to discuss the nature and extent of the proposed scheme and the objections of civil servants to loaning Supplementary Benefit. The paper demonstrates how the worst-case scenario outlined by civil servants in 1970 was introduced some 15 years later as Social Fund loans. The paper then discusses economic, ideological and social change that provided the context for the introduction of loans as part of the Social Fund in the 1980s.