Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirtieth Report



APPENDIX 5

Memorandum by the Department of Social Security

THE SOCIAL SECURITY (WORK-FOCUSED INTERVIEWS FOR LONE PARENTS) AND MISCELLANEOUS AMENDMENTS REGULATIONS 2000 (S.I. 2000/1926)

1. The Committee has asked the Department for a memorandum on the following points:

    (i)  Explain which provisions of the Regulations are made in exercise of the power in section 2C of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, which is recited in the preamble.

Paragraph 4(a) of Schedule 2 to the Regulations and regulation 10 in so far as it applies to that sub-paragraph are made under section 2C of the Social Security Administration Act 1992.

    2.   (ii)  Explain (a) in what circumstances a lone parent who has not failed to take part in an interview, as referred to in regulation 2(1)(b)(i)(bb), will not fall within subparagraph (ii) of regulation 2(1)(b); and (b) where a lone parent has failed to take part in an interview, as referred to in regulation 2(1)(b)(ii), the time at which he last did so is to be determined for the purposes of applying that provision.

3. (a) Section 2A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 provides for three, distinct elements: a prerequisite requirement to take part in an interview, the interview itself and a sanction for failure to take part in an interview. It may be helpful to bear in mind that the sanction is specifically in that respect (i.e. the failure to attend on a particular occasion or, having attended, the failure to provide specific information) rather than failure to comply with the prerequisite requirement (which would, in its nature, be a continuing failure).

4. It is intended that for most cases the requirement will come into being when the claimant makes a claim. The requirement is a trigger for the Secretary of State to take action (i.e. to notify the claimant of an interview) and not, of itself, for action on the part of the claimant. If the claimant fails to take part in the initial interview he will be regarded as not having made the claim. If he does take part then a further requirement will arise one year later. His benefit will not be affected if he takes part in that interview. On the other hand, it will be reduced if he fails to take part. Whether he takes part in that second interview or he fails to take part, a further requirement will trigger one year later (and so on in like fashion).

5. The cases described in the previous paragraph relate to those who make a claim after these regulations come into force, those who take part in an interview and those who fail to take part in an interview. However, these Regulations do not only apply to those cases; they also apply to claimants who are already entitled to income support when these Regulations come into force. Those are the cases where the claimant has neither taken part in an interview nor failed to take part. The requirement arises upon commencement in respect of these cases. The expression "not failed to take part" is intentionally contrasted with the expression "take part". Nevertheless, we are grateful to the Committee for drawing our attention to this point and, subject to any views the Committee may have, will consider whether the intention could be better expressed.

6. (b) A claimant must attend an interview at the time and place notified by an officer of the Secretary of State and he must provide information about specified matters (regulation 3(2)). The time at which he last failed to take part in an interview is the date of the last occasion on which he failed to attend at the time and place notified and provide that information.

    7. (iii)  Explain whether the words "at that time" in regulations 5(1) are drafted as intended and, if so, how they relate to the date determined by an officer, as referred to in that provision.

The words "at that time" were intended to refer to the time of the determination. The Department believes that the intention is clear and that those words refer back to the time relevant to the main verb (the verb being grammatically closer than the reference to "date"). Nevertheless, we are grateful to the Committee for drawing our attention to this point as well and, subject to any views the Committee may have, will consider whether the intention could be better expressed.

    8. (iv)  Explain why regulation 8(2) sets at 10 pence per week the minimum level of payment of income support which may result from a reduction made under regulation 8(1).

Setting the minimum level of income support at 10 pence per week ensures that the reduction does not affect rules relating to other benefits which depend on entitlement to income support (for example paragraph 4 of Schedule 4 to the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987/1971).

1 November 2000


 
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