Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Ninth Report


APPENDIX 3

Memorandum from the Department for Work and Pensions

SOCIAL SECURITY (JOBCENTRE PLUS INTERVIEWS) REGULATIONS 2001 (S.I. 2001/3210)

1. The Joint Committee has requested that the Department submit a memorandum concerning the above regulations on the following points (the response on each point follows the recitation of the relevant point)-

(1) Regulation 6(3) requires an officer, when determining that the requirement to take part in an interview shall be deferred, also to determine the time when that requirement is to apply. In these circumstances regulation 6(4) treats a person as having complied with the requirement to take part in an interview until [(a)] a determination has been made that the claimant is to take part in an interview. Is this the additional determination referred to in regulation 6(3)? If so, what is the purpose of regulation 6(4)(a)? If not, explain the effect of the determination required by regulation 6(3).

2. If an officer determines that a deferral of an interview is appropriate in accordance with regulation 6(2), he should also, at the same time, determine the time from which the requirement is to apply under regulation 6(3). If however, for whatever reason, the officer then fails to determine the time from which the requirement is to be reimposed under regulation 6(3), the two limbs of regulation 6(4) ensure that the person is treated as having complied with the requirement to take part in an interview until such time as determinations have been made, both that the claimant is to take part in an interview and as to whether in fact he took part in that interview. The references in those paragraphs are therefore to two distinct determinations.

(2) As paragraph (4) of regulation 11 is not concerned with the amount of the reduction referred to in paragraph (2)(c) of that regulation, why is paragraph (2)(c) made subject to paragraph (4)?

3. Regulation 11(2)(c) has been made subject to regulation 11(4) because, whilst the former paragraph prescribes the general rule relating to the reduction of all specified benefits (as defined in regulation 2(1)), the latter paragraph will operate, if two or more specified benefits are in payment, to negate the effect of the reduction in respect of any of those benefits which are lower in the order of priority set out in regulation 11(4). For example, where both income support and incapacity benefit are being paid to a person to whom regulation 11(1) applies, the reduction under regulation 11(2)(c) will be applied only in respect of the former and not the latter.

(3) Regulation 11(10) makes it clear that a person to whom regulation 11(2)(a) applies must make a new claim in order to establish entitlement to any specified benefit. Regulation 12 provides that the consequences of a failure to take part in an interview set out in regulation 11 shall not apply where the person ceases to reside in a relevant area or attains the age of 60. The effect of regulation 12 in such a case appears to be to reactivate the person's original claim. Is that the intended effect, or is it intended that regulation 11(10) still applies in these circumstances? If the latter, why is this not made clear?

4. Regulation 12 prescribes that where the events specified in that regulation occur, the consequences in regulation 11 shall not apply. Therefore, a person who had been regarded as not having made a claim for a specified benefit pursuant to regulation 11(1)(a) would, on the occurrence of those events, be regarded as having made a claim for that benefit.

(4) Regulation 11(13) defines the "decision" as "the decision that the person failed without good cause to take part in an interview" (emphasis added). Nowhere in the Regulations is a requirement imposed on any person to make that decision. Does the Department agree that express provision to that effect should have been included? (Contrast regulation 10(1).)

5. Whilst the Department accept that there is no express provision in the Regulations specifically imposing the requirement to make a decision as to good cause for a failure to take part in an interview, we believe that such a requirement follows necessarily from the Regulations and the enabling legislation. A decision that good cause has not been shown constitutes a "relevant decision" under section 2B(2)(b) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (c.5) which is appealable by virtue of regulation 14 and regulation 11(13) itself provides that for the consequences in regulation 11(2) to apply at all, the decision that there has been a failure to take part in an interview must be accompanied by a decision that good cause has not been shown for that failure.

5th November 2001


 
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