Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill - continued        House of Lords

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  PART VI
  WELFARE
  CHAPTER I
  SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS
 
State maternity allowance
Extension of entitlement to state maternity allowance.     53. - (1) In section 35 of the Contributions and Benefits Act (state maternity allowance), for subsections (1) and (1A) there shall be substituted- "(1) A woman shall be entitled to a maternity allowance, at the appropriate weekly rate determined under section 35A below, if-
 
 
    (a) she has become pregnant and has reached, or been confined before reaching, the commencement of the 11th week before the expected week of confinement; and
 
    (b) she has been engaged in employment as an employed or self-employed earner for any part of the week in the case of at least 26 of the 66 weeks immediately preceding the expected week of confinement; and
 
    (c) (within the meaning of section 35A) her average weekly earnings are not less than the maternity allowance threshold; and
 
    (d) she is not entitled to statutory maternity pay for the same week in respect of the same pregnancy."
      (2) In subsection (3) of that section-
 
 
    (a) for "Schedule 3, Part I, paragraph 3" there shall be substituted "section 35A below"; and
 
    (b) for "and (c) above" there shall be substituted "above or in section 35A(2) or (3) below".
      (3) After that section there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Appropriate weekly rate of maternity allowance.     35A. - (1) For the purposes of section 35(1) above the appropriate weekly rate is that specified in whichever of subsection (2) or (3) below applies.
 
    (2) Where the woman's average weekly earnings are not less than the lower earnings limit for the relevant tax year, the appropriate weekly rate is a weekly rate equal to the lower rate of statutory maternity pay for the time being prescribed under section 166(3) below.
 
      (3) Where the woman's average weekly earnings-
 
 
    (a) are less than the lower earnings limit for the relevant tax year, but
 
    (b) are not less than the maternity allowance threshold for that tax year,
  the appropriate weekly rate is a weekly rate equivalent to 90 per cent. of her average weekly earnings or (if lower) the rate specified in subsection (2) above.
 
      (4) For the purposes of this section a woman's "average weekly earnings" shall be taken to be the average weekly amount (as determined in accordance with regulations) of specified payments which-
 
 
    (a) were made to her or for her benefit as an employed earner, or
 
    (b) are (in accordance with regulations) to be treated as made to her or for her benefit as a self-employed earner,
  during the specified period.
 
      (5) Regulations may, for the purposes of subsection (4) above, provide-
 
 
    (a) for the amount of any payments falling within paragraph (a) or (b) of that subsection to be calculated or estimated in such manner and on such basis as may be prescribed;
 
    (b) for a payment made outside the specified period to be treated as made during that period where it was referable to that period or any part of it;
 
    (c) for a woman engaged in employment as a self-employed earner to be treated as having received a payment in respect of a week-
 
      (i) equal to the lower earnings limit in force on the last day of the week, if she paid a Class 2 contribution in respect of the week, or
 
      (ii) equal to the maternity allowance threshold in force on that day, if she was excepted (under section 11(4) above) from liability for such a contribution in respect of the week;
 
    (d) for aggregating payments made or treated as made to or for the benefit of a woman where, either in the same week or in different weeks, she was engaged in two or more employments (whether, in each case, as an employed earner or a self-employed earner).
      (6) In this section-
 
 
    (a) "the maternity allowance threshold", in relation to a tax year, means (subject to subsection (7) below) £30;
 
    (b) "the relevant tax year" means the tax year in which the beginning of the period of 66 weeks mentioned in section 35(1)(b) above falls; and
 
    (c) "specified" (except in subsections (7) and (8) below) means prescribed by or determined in accordance with regulations.
      (7) The Secretary of State may, in relation to any tax year after 1999-2000, by order increase the amount for the time being specified in subsection (6)(a) above to such amount as is specified in the order.
 
      (8) When deciding whether, and (if so) by how much, to increase the amount so specified the Secretary of State shall have regard to the movement, over such period as he thinks fit, in the general level of prices obtaining in Great Britain (estimated in such manner as he thinks fit); and the Secretary of State shall in each tax year carry out such a review of the amount so specified as he thinks fit."
 
      (4) This section applies in relation to the payment of maternity allowance in cases where a woman's expected week of confinement (within the meaning of section 35 of the Contributions and Benefits Act) begins on or after 20th August 2000.
 
 
Benefits for widows and widowers
Bereavement payments.     54. - (1) For section 36 of the Contributions and Benefits Act there shall be substituted-
 
 
"Bereavement payment.     36. - (1) A person whose spouse dies on or after the appointed day shall be entitled to a bereavement payment if-
 
    (a) either that person was under pensionable age at the time when the spouse died or the spouse was then not entitled to a Category A retirement pension under section 44 below; and
 
    (b) the spouse satisfied the contribution condition for a bereavement payment specified in Schedule 3, Part I, paragraph 4.
      (2) A bereavement payment shall not be payable to a person if that person and a person of the opposite sex to whom that person was not married were living together as husband and wife at the time of the spouse's death.
 
      (3) In this section "the appointed day" means the day appointed for the coming into force of sections 54 to 56 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999."
 
      (2) In Schedule 4 to the Contributions and Benefits Act (rates of benefits etc.), for Part II there shall be substituted-
 
 
"PART II
  BEREAVEMENT PAYMENT
 
 
Bereavement payment.
 
£2,000.00"
New allowances for bereaved spouses.     55. - (1) After section 36 of the Contributions and Benefits Act there shall be inserted-
 
"Cases in which sections 37 to 41 apply.     36A. - (1) Sections 37 to 39 and section 40 below apply only in cases where a woman's husband has died before the appointed day, and section 41 below applies only in cases where a man's wife has died before that day.
 
    (2) Sections 39A to 39C below apply in cases where a person's spouse dies on or after the appointed day, but section 39A also applies (in accordance with subsection (1)(b) of that section) in cases where a man's wife has died before that day.
 
      (3) In this section, and in sections 39A and 39B below, "the appointed day" means the day appointed for the coming into force of sections 54 to 56 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999."
 
      (2) After section 39 of the Contributions and Benefits Act there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Widowed parent's allowance.     39A. - (1) This section applies where-
 
    (a) a person whose spouse dies on or after the appointed day is under pensionable age at the time of the spouse's death, or
 
    (b) a man whose wife died before the appointed day-
 
      (i) has not remarried before that day, and
 
      (ii) is under pensionable age on that day.
      (2) The surviving spouse shall be entitled to a widowed parent's allowance at the rate determined in accordance with section 39C below if the deceased spouse satisfied the contribution conditions for a widowed parent's allowance specified in Schedule 3, Part I, paragraph 5 and-
 
 
    (a) the surviving spouse is entitled to child benefit in respect of a child falling within subsection (3) below; or
 
    (b) the surviving spouse is a woman who either-
 
      (i) is pregnant by her late husband, or
 
      (ii) if she and he were residing together immediately before the time of his death, is pregnant in circumstances falling within section 37(1)(c) above.
      (3) A child falls within this subsection if one of the conditions specified in section 81(2) below is for the time being satisfied with respect to the child and the child is either-
 
 
    (a) a son or daughter of the surviving spouse and the deceased spouse; or
 
    (b) a child in respect of whom the deceased spouse was immediately before his or her death entitled to child benefit; or
 
    (c) if the surviving spouse and the deceased spouse were residing together immediately before his or her death, a child in respect of whom the surviving spouse was then entitled to child benefit.
      (4) The surviving spouse shall not be entitled to the allowance for any period after she or he remarries, but, subject to that, the surviving spouse shall continue to be entitled to it for any period throughout which she or he-
 
 
    (a) satisfies the requirements of subsection (2)(a) or (b) above; and
 
    (b) is under pensionable age.
      (5) A widowed parent's allowance shall not be payable-
 
 
    (a) for any period falling before the day on which the surviving spouse's entitlement is to be regarded as commencing by virtue of section 5(1)(k) of the Administration Act; or
 
    (b) for any period during which the surviving spouse and a person of the opposite sex to whom she or he is not married are living together as husband and wife.
Bereavement allowance where no dependent children.     39B. - (1) This section applies where a person whose spouse dies on or after the appointed day is over the age of 45 but under pensionable age at the spouse's death.
 
      (2) The surviving spouse shall be entitled to a bereavement allowance at the rate determined in accordance with section 39C below if the deceased spouse satisfied the contribution conditions for a bereavement allowance specified in Schedule 3, Part I, paragraph 5.
 
      (3) A bereavement allowance shall be payable for not more than two years beginning with the date of the spouse's death or (if later) the day on which the surviving spouse's entitlement is to be regarded as commencing by virtue of section 5(1)(k) of the Administration Act.
 
      (4) The surviving spouse shall not be entitled to the allowance for any period after she or he remarries, but, subject to that, the surviving spouse shall continue to be entitled to it until-
 
 
    (a) she or he attains pensionable age, or
 
    (b) the period of two years mentioned in subsection (3) above expires,
  whichever happens first.
 
      (5) The allowance shall not be payable-
 
 
    (a) for any period for which the surviving spouse is entitled to a widowed parent's allowance; or
 
    (b) for any period during which the surviving spouse and a person of the opposite sex to whom she or he is not married are living together as husband and wife.
Rate of widowed parent's allowance and bereavement allowance.     39C. - (1) The weekly rate of a widowed parent's allowance shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of sections 44 to 45A below as they apply in the case of a Category A retirement pension, but subject, in particular, to the following provisions of this section and section 46(2) below.
 
      (2) The weekly rate of a bereavement allowance shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of section 44 below as they apply in the case of a Category A retirement pension so far as consisting only of the basic pension referred to in subsection (3)(a) of that section, but subject, in particular, to the following provisions of this section.
 
      (3) In the application of sections 44 to 45A or (as the case may be) section 44 below by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) above-
 
 
    (a) where the deceased spouse was over pensionable age at his or her death, references in those sections to the pensioner shall be taken as references to the deceased spouse, and
 
    (b) where the deceased spouse was under pensionable age at his or her death, references in those sections to the pensioner and the tax year in which he attained pensionable age shall be taken as references to the deceased spouse and the tax year in which he or she died.
      (4) Where a widowed parent's allowance is payable to a person whose spouse dies after 5th April 2000, the additional pension falling to be calculated under sections 44 to 45A below by virtue of subsection (1) above shall be one half of the amount which it would be apart from this subsection.
 
      (5) Where a bereavement allowance is payable to a person who was under the age of 55 at the time of the spouse's death, the weekly rate of the allowance shall be reduced by 7 per cent. of what it would be apart from this subsection multiplied by the number of years by which that person's age at that time was less than 55 (any fraction of a year being counted as a year)."
 
Entitlement to Category B retirement pension by reference to new allowances.     56. After section 48B of the Contributions and Benefits Act there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Category B retirement pension: entitlement by reference to benefits under section 39A or 39B.     48BB. - (1) Subsection (2) below applies where a person ("the pensioner") who has attained pensionable age-
 
    (a) was, immediately before attaining that age, entitled to a widowed parent's allowance in consequence of the death of his or her spouse; and
 
    (b) has not remarried.
      (2) The pensioner shall be entitled to a Category B retirement pension by virtue of the contributions of the spouse, which shall be payable at the same weekly rate as the widowed parent's allowance.
 
      (3) Subsections (4) to (10) below apply where a person ("the pensioner") who has attained pensionable age-
 
 
    (a) was in consequence of the death of his or her spouse either-
 
      (i) entitled to a bereavement allowance at any time prior to attaining that age, or
 
      (ii) entitled to a widowed parent's allowance at any time when over the age of 45 (but not immediately before attaining pensionable age); and
 
    (b) has not remarried.
      (4) The pensioner shall be entitled to a Category B retirement pension by virtue of the contributions of the spouse.
 
      (5) A Category B retirement pension payable by virtue of subsection (4) above shall be payable at a weekly rate corresponding to the weekly rate of the additional pension determined in accordance with the provisions of sections 44 to 45A above as they apply in relation to a Category A retirement pension, but subject, in particular, to the following provisions of this section and section 46(2) above.
 
      (6) Where the spouse died under pensionable age, references in the provisions of sections 44 to 45A above, as applied by subsection (5) above, to the tax year in which the pensioner attained pensionable age shall be taken as references to the tax year in which the spouse died.
 
      (7) Where the spouse dies after 5th April 2000, the pension payable by virtue of subsection (4) above shall (before making any reduction required by subsection (8) below) be one half of the amount which it would be apart from this subsection.
 
      (8) Where the pensioner was under the age of 55 at the relevant time, the weekly rate of the pension shall be reduced by 7 per cent. of what it would be apart from this subsection multiplied-
 
 
    (a) by the number of years by which the pensioner's age at that time was less than 55 (any fraction of a year being counted as a year), or
 
    (b) by ten, if that number exceeds ten.
      (9) In subsection (8) above "the relevant time" means-
 
 
    (a) where the pensioner became entitled to a widowed parent's allowance in consequence of the death of the spouse, the time when the pensioner's entitlement to that allowance ended; and
 
    (b) otherwise, the time of the spouse's death.
      (10) The amount determined in accordance with subsections (5) to (9) above as the weekly rate of the pension payable to the pensioner by virtue of subsection (4) above shall be increased by such percentage as equals the overall percentage by which, had the pension been in payment as from the date of the spouse's death until the date when the pensioner attained pensionable age, that weekly rate would have been increased during that period by virtue of any orders under section 150 of the Administration Act (annual up-rating of benefits)."
 
 
Work-focused interviews
Claim or full entitlement to certain benefits conditional on work-focused interview.     57. After section 2 of the Administration Act there shall be inserted-
 
 

"Work-focused interviews
Claim or full entitlement to certain benefits conditional on work-focused interview.     2A. - (1) Regulations may make provision for or in connection with-
 
 
    (a) imposing, as a condition falling to be satisfied by a person who-
 
      (i) makes a claim for a benefit to which this section applies, and
 
      (ii) is under the age of 60 at the time of making the claim,
 
    a requirement to take part in a work-focused interview;
 
    (b) imposing, at a time when-
 
      (i) a person is under that age and entitled to such a benefit, and
 
      (ii) any prescribed circumstances exist,
 
    a requirement to take part in such an interview as a condition of that person continuing to be entitled to the full amount which is payable to him in respect of the benefit apart from the regulations.
      (2) The benefits to which this section applies are-
 
 
    (a) income support;
 
    (b) housing benefit;
 
    (c) council tax benefit;
 
    (d) widow's and bereavement benefits falling within section 20(1)(e) and (ea) of the Contributions and Benefits Act (other than a bereavement payment);
 
    (e) incapacity benefit;
 
    (f) severe disablement allowance; and
 
    (g) invalid care allowance.
      (3) Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision-
 
 
    (a) for securing, where a person would otherwise be required to take part in interviews relating to two or more benefits-
 
      (i) that he is only required to take part in one interview, and
 
      (ii) that any such interview is capable of counting for the purposes of all those benefits;
 
    (b) for determining the persons by whom interviews are to be conducted;
 
    (c) conferring power on such persons or the designated authority to determine when and where interviews are to take place (including power in prescribed circumstances to determine that they are to take place in the homes of those being interviewed);
 
    (d) prescribing the circumstances in which persons attending interviews are to be regarded as having or not having taken part in them;
 
    (e) for securing that the appropriate consequences mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (b) below ensue if a person who has been notified that he is required to take part in an interview-
 
      (i) fails to take part in the interview, and
 
      (ii) does not show, within the prescribed period, that he had good cause for that failure;
 
    (f) prescribing-
 
      (i) matters which are or are not to be taken into account in determining whether a person does or does not have good cause for any failure to comply with the regulations, or
 
      (ii) circumstances in which a person is or is not to be regarded as having or not having good cause for any such failure.
      (4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(e) above the appropriate consequences of a failure falling within that provision are-
 
 
    (a) where the requirement to take part in an interview applied by virtue of subsection (1)(a) above, that as regards any relevant benefit either-
 
      (i) the person in question is to be regarded as not having made a claim for the benefit, or
 
      (ii) if (in the case of an interview postponed in accordance with subsection (7)) that person has already been awarded the benefit, his entitlement to the benefit is to terminate immediately;
 
    (b) where the requirement to take part in an interview applied by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above, that the amount payable to the person in question in respect of any relevant benefit is to be reduced by the specified amount until the specified time.
      (5) Regulations under this section may, in relation to any such reduction, provide-
 
 
    (a) for the amount of the reduction to be calculated in the first instance by reference to such amount as may be prescribed;
 
    (b) for the amount as so calculated to be restricted, in prescribed circumstances, to the prescribed extent;
 
    (c) where the person in question is entitled to two or more relevant benefits, for determining the extent, and the order, in which those benefits are to be reduced in order to give effect to the reduction required in his case.
      (6) Regulations under this section may provide that any requirement to take part in an interview that would otherwise apply to a person by virtue of such regulations-
 
 
    (a) is, in any prescribed circumstances, either not to apply or not to apply until such time as is specified;
 
    (b) is not to apply if the designated authority determines that an interview-
 
      (i) would not be of assistance to that person, or
 
      (ii) would not be appropriate in the circumstances;
 
    (c) is not to apply until such time as the designated authority determines, if that authority determines that an interview-
 
      (i) would not be of assistance to that person, or
 
      (ii) would not be appropriate in the circumstances,
 
    until that time;and the regulations may make provision for treating a person in relation to whom any such requirement does not apply, or does not apply until a particular time, as having complied with that requirement to such extent and for such purposes as are specified.
      (7) Where-
 
 
    (a) a person is required to take part in an interview by virtue of subsection (1)(a), and
 
    (b) the interview is postponed by or under regulations made in pursuance of subsection (6)(a) or (c),
  the time to which it is so postponed may be a time falling after an award of the relevant benefit to that person.
 
      (8) In this section-
 
 
    "the designated authority" means such of the following as may be specified, namely-
 
      (a) the Secretary of State,
 
      (b) a person providing services to the Secretary of State,
 
      (c) a local authority,
 
      (d) a person providing services to, or authorised to exercise any function of, any such authority;
 
    "interview" (in subsections (3) to (7)) means a work-focused interview;
 
    "relevant benefit", in relation to any person required to take part in a work-focused interview, means any benefit in relation to which that requirement applied by virtue of subsection (1)(a) or (b) above;
 
    "specified" means prescribed by or determined in accordance with regulations;
 
    "work-focused interview", in relation to a person, means an interview conducted for such purposes connected with employment or training in the case of that person as may be specified;
  and the purposes which may be so specified include purposes connected with a person's existing or future employment or training prospects or needs, and (in particular) assisting or encouraging a person to enhance his employment prospects.
 
Supplementary provisions relating to work-focused interviews.     2B. - (1) Chapter II of Part I of the Social Security Act 1998 (social security decisions and appeals) shall have effect in relation to relevant decisions subject to and in accordance with subsections (3) to (8) below (and in those subsections "the 1998 Act" means that Act).
 
      (2) For the purposes of this section a "relevant decision" is a decision made under regulations under section 2A above that a person-
 
 
    (a) has failed to comply with a requirement to take part in an interview which applied to him by virtue of the regulations, or
 
    (b) has not shown, within the prescribed period mentioned in section 2A(3)(e)(ii) above, that he had good cause for such a failure.
      (3) Section 8(1)(c) of the 1998 Act (decisions falling to be made under or by virtue of certain enactments are to be made by the Secretary of State) shall have effect subject to any provisions of regulations under section 2A above by virtue of which relevant decisions fall to be made otherwise than by the Secretary of State.
 
      (4) For the purposes of each of sections 9 and 10 of the 1998 Act (revision and supersession of decisions of Secretary of State) any relevant decision made otherwise than by the Secretary of State shall be treated as if it were such a decision made by the Secretary of State (and accordingly may be revised by him under section 9 or superseded by a decision made by him under section 10).
 
      (5) Subject to any provisions of regulations under either section 9 or 10 of the 1998 Act, any relevant decision made, or (by virtue of subsection (4) above) treated as made, by the Secretary of State may be-
 
 
    (a) revised under section 9 by a person or authority exercising functions under regulations under section 2A above other than the Secretary of State, or
 
    (b) superseded under section 10 by a decision made by such a person or authority,
  as if that person or authority were the Secretary of State.
 
      (6) Regulations shall make provision for conferring (except in any prescribed circumstances) a right of appeal under section 12 of the 1998 Act (appeal to appeal tribunal) against-
 
 
    (a) any relevant decision, and
 
    (b) any decision under section 10 of that Act superseding any such decision,
  whether made by the Secretary of State or otherwise.
 
      (7) Subsections (4) to (6) above apply whether-
 
 
    (a) the relevant decision, or
 
    (b) (in the case of subsection (6)(b)) the decision under section 10 of the 1998 Act,
  is as originally made or has been revised (by the Secretary of State or otherwise) under section 9 of that Act; and regulations under subsection (6) above may make provision for treating, for the purposes of section 12 of that Act, any decision made or revised otherwise than by the Secretary of State as if it were a decision made or revised by him.
 
      (8) Section 12 of the 1998 Act shall not apply to any decision falling within subsection (6) above except in accordance with regulations under that subsection.
 
      (9) In the following provisions, namely-
 
 
    (a) section 3(1) of the Social Security Act 1998 (use of information), and
 
    (b) section 69(6) of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 (supply of information),
  any reference to information relating to social security includes any information supplied by a person for the purposes of an interview which he is required to take part in by virtue of section 2A above.
 
      (10) In this section "interview" means a work-focused interview within the meaning of section 2A above."
 
Optional work-focused interviews.     58. After section 2B of the Administration Act (inserted by section 57 above) there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Optional work-focused interviews.     2C. - (1) Regulations may make provision for conferring on local authorities functions in connection with conducting work-focused interviews in cases where such interviews are requested or consented to by persons to whom this section applies.
 
    (2) This section applies to persons making claims for or entitled to-
 
 
    (a) any of the benefits listed in section 2A(2) above, or
 
    (b) any prescribed benefit;
  and it so applies regardless of whether such persons have, in accordance with regulations under section 2A above, already taken part in interviews conducted under such regulations.
 
      (3) The functions which may be conferred on a local authority by regulations under this section include functions relating to-
 
 
    (a) the obtaining and receiving of information for the purposes of work-focused interviews conducted under the regulations;
 
    (b) the recording and forwarding of information supplied at, or for the purposes of, such interviews;
 
    (c) the taking of steps to identify potential employment or training opportunities for persons taking part in such interviews.
      (4) Regulations under this section may make different provision for different areas or different authorities.
 
      (5) In this section "work-focused interview", in relation to a person to whom this section applies, means an interview conducted for such purposes connected with employment or training in the case of such a person as may be prescribed; and the purposes which may be so prescribed include-
 
 
    (a) purposes connected with the existing or future employment or training prospects or needs of such a person, and
 
    (b) (in particular) assisting or encouraging such a person to enhance his employment prospects."
 
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