Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20 - 35)




  20. You will appreciate that the Regulatory Reform Act does lay down what consultation is needed for measures being considered under that procedure.
  (Mr Ramsden) Yes.

  21. So it is that Act that one has to follow if one is coming forward with proposals for this Committee to consider and, at the end of the day, this Committee has to be satisfied that the correct and adequate consultations have taken place.
  (Mr Ramsden) Indeed, Chairman, and obviously in accordance with that, the proposals that the Government was seeking to place in the order were the subject of public consultation during the course of last year.

  22. Public consultation, but you did not feel that this particular body should have been included within that?
  (Mr Ramsden) We did seek to send the Committee, or its Secretariat more specifically, a copy of the Government's proposals as part of the consultation process. As you may be aware, there is some issue as to whether those proposals were in fact disseminated to Members of the Advisory Committee, but certainly our intention had been to include them in the consultation process and we did indeed send a copy of the proposals to the Secretariat of the Committee.

Brian White

  23. Why do you not put a check on your e-mails to tell you that it has been delivered?
  (Ms Hutt) It had been delivered.
  (Mr Ramsden) We did in fact do that.

Mr Brown

  24. I just want to turn to the 200 to 300 who are being disadvantaged a year. I am not quite sure—and I apologise because I came in late—was that 200 to 300 being disadvantaged after taking the minimum income guarantee into account or will some of them not be disadvantaged if MIG applies to them?
  (Ms Hutt) It is hard to answer that. What you mean by "disadvantaged" is—

  25. They will lose a benefit when they reach a certain age.
  (Ms Hutt) If that brings them into the minimum income guarantee, they will be brought up to that level. Yes, that might be less than their total income before when they did have invalid care allowance.

  26. I am still trying to get at the 200 to 300. Are you saying that in spite of the minimum income guarantee, they will still be disadvantaged?
  (Ms Hutt) I cannot answer that. The loss of the invalid care allowance might well trigger minimum income guarantee for them. There is no way of knowing. Everyone's circumstances are different. It is a means tested benefit.

  27. You are not saying that there will still be a lot potentially left after the minimum income guarantee?
  (Ms Hutt) No, I have not compared it with the minimum income guarantee. There is no way of knowing because we do not know what the individual incomes of carers are. Invalid care allowances are a non means tested benefit. We do not ask them what their other income is, so there is no way of knowing whether or not they slot into . . . We are saying that there will be some people who will lose their invalid care allowance when they cease to be carers.

  28. But we are talking about people going over the age of 65?
  (Ms Hutt) Yes.

  29. Will these people be automatically encouraged to apply for other benefits that might be available such as minimum income guarantee? Will that happen automatically?
  (Ms Hutt) The decision letter will advise them about other benefits that might be available for them and it will be up to them to claim.
  (Mr Ramsden) Certainly at the moment of course there is a strongly running initiative by the Government to encourage take-up of the minimum income guarantee.

  Mr Brown: That is true but there is still a huge number of people who do not take it up even though there is this campaign.

Mr Goodman

  30. What assumptions have you made about the rate of increase of the MIG?
  (Ms Hutt) None. We are not basing these proposals on how far the minimum income guarantee will come up. The proposals are not related, if you like, to the rates of the minimum income guarantee.
  (Mr Ramsden) The figures included in the letter are rates as of currently and not, as it were, projected into the future by uprating.

  31. So really, like all of us, you do not know what future levels of the MIG will be.
  (Ms Hutt) We do not know what future levels of MIG will be, no. All we can say is that for very many people over the age of 65, it seems like about 95 per cent of carers over 65, continue caring anyway. That is quite a high concession. It means that the concession never kicks in for them. They are still carers; they still carry on getting the benefit. We are looking at a very small percentage of people who cease caring. They are then, if you like, in the same position as a non carer—that is what this renders them into—and they have underpinnings, with reservations obviously on some of your parts, that a non carer would have; a pensioner who is not a carer is subject to those minimums.


  32. I just put this point to you with regard to removing this anomaly in a different way in that you could alter Section 70(6) and amend it to enable those who start claiming at over 65 continue to receive if they cease to be carers. You could do it that way if you were so minded.
  (Ms Hutt) It is a question of how the Government is minded, how Ministers are minded. They want to help carers who are older carers, lower income carers and the other part of the package as you know is people who are in a particularly vulnerable position after bereavement. Those are the people they want to help. That proposal is not part of the proposed package, if you like. What it would mean would be that a large number of people over 65 who may claim might then, after one week's caring, be entitled to carry on claiming thereafter. Whether that is a proper use of public money is the question to ask.
  (Mr Ramsden) I think it would be arguable in those circumstances that what you would be having is an extension of a fairly unusual provision in the social security structure which was established a quarter of a century ago for a particular reason, which to some extent has now ceased to exist, enlarged and perpetuated really for a different reason into a new group of customers which, shall we say, would almost certainly create further anomalies and difficulties in time to come.

  33. You will appreciate that, as Members of Parliament, we still get constituents protesting about the changes in reduced earnings allowance which was an item quite a long number of years ago; I still receive letters on it and I am sure that many of my colleagues do. This is one of the reasons why we are particularly concerned about a change. We understand that you would want to remove an anomaly but the main thing comes back to the issue that I raised earlier, that you are saying that it is on the merits of the case, not the specific numbers, although we understand that far more people will be gaining than will be losing.
  (Ms Hutt) Yes.

Brian White

  34. Are there any circumstances where a person could be given ICA but not the carer's premium?
  (Ms Hutt) Yes, if their income was over the MIG.
  (Mr Ramsden) Higher income partners of people where the household income is above income support levels is an example.

  35. So technically they could be in a situation where they actually lose ICA totally which is more than the £24 carer's premium that you talked about.
  (Ms Hutt) They could but again they still have the underpinning of the MIG. If they are on a higher income level such as they are not getting carer premium, that suggests that they have other income, but they would still have that other income and, should they slip into the MIG zone, then they would be helped accordingly. We also come back to this MIG underpinning.

  Chairman: Can I thank you for coming along; it has been helpful to us. We now have to discuss what you have told us and reach our decision.

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