Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fifteenth Report


Memorandum by the Department of Social Security


  1. The Joint Committee has requested that the Department submits a memorandum on the following points:

    "(1) Regulation 2 provides that regulations 3 to 6 are to apply only in respect of claims for a social fund payment to meet funeral expenses which are made, or are treated as made, on or after 17th November, 1997. Explain the significance of the italicised words.

    (2) New regulation 4(4) (inserted by regulation 4(b)) provides that a further funeral payment may be made in respect of any funeral expenses arising from the death of a person in respect of which such a payment has already been made where (a) the decision pursuant to which the funeral payment was awarded has been reviewed; and (b) the amount of the award as revised on that review, together with the amount of the funeral payment already paid in respect of the death of that person, does not exceed the amount of any funeral payment which may be awarded pursuant to regulation 7A(2). In a case where the original amount awarded (£X) is increased, on the review, to £X + 200, do the italicised words refer to £X + 200 or to £200? If the latter interpretation is intended, ought not the underlined words to have been to the following effect: the further amount awarded on that review?".

  2. On point (1), the "prescribed time for claiming" a funeral payment is defined in regulation 3(1) of the principal Regulations (as amended by regulation 2(2)(c) of the Social Security (Social Fund and Claims and Payments)(Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1997 (S.I. 1997-792) as "the appropriate period during which . . . a funeral payment may be claimed pursuant to regulation 19 of, and Schedule 4 to, the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1987" (S.I. 1987/1968) ("the Claims and Payments Regulations"). Schedule 4 to the Claims and Payments Regulations provides that a funeral payment may only be claimed during the period beginning with the date of death and ending three months after the date of the funeral.

  3. The date of claim in any case is determined by regulation 6 of the Claims and Payments Regulations. By virtue of regulation 6(24) to (26) of those Regulations (as inserted by regulation 3(6) of the Social Security (Miscellaneous Amendments)(No.2) Regulations 1997 (S.I.1997/793)), a claim for a social fund payment in respect of funeral expenses shall be treated as made on a specified earlier date where a previous claim for such expenses had been refused and the further claim is made in the circumstances specified in paragraph (25).

  4. The underlined words therefore reflect that position and provide that, in such a case, the Regulations shall not apply where a further claim is treated as made before 17 November 1997. If the italicised words had not been included, the Regulations would have had effect in respect of any further claim made on or after 17 November 1997, even where that claim is treated as having been made before 17 November 1997.

  5. On point (2), it is intended that the italicised words should be interpreted in accordance with the latter interpretation (i.e., they refer to £200 and not to £X + 200). The Department undertakes to make an appropriate amendment to the Regulations at the earliest opportunity.

24th November 1997

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