Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Sixteenth Report



ANNEX 2

CHILD SUPPORT, PENSIONS AND SOCIAL SECURITY BILL: AMENDMENTS TO BE INTRODUCED AT LORDS COMMITTEE STAGE

LETTER TO THE CHAIRMAN FROM THE PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR SOCIAL SECURITY

BARONESS HOLLIS OF HEIGHAM

I am writing to let you know that I have tabled two amendments to the Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill on 9th May. These amendments, to clauses 62 and 64 of the Bill (loss of benefit provisions), introduce new delegated powers and amend delegated powers currently in the Bill. The first amendment corrects an omission in the current drafting to enable hardship payments to be made in joint-claim Jobseeker's Allowance cases. The second amendment puts into effect the recommendation of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee to change the regulation-making procedures which applied to clause 61(3) and 61(4) from negative to affirmative, and provides additionally for regulations made under 62(3)(a) and the new 62(3A) to be subject to the affirmative procedure.

AMENDMENT TO CLAUSE 62

Clause 62 sets out how the community sentences benefit sanction will apply to joint-claim Jobseeker's Allowance, which was introduced by section 59 of, and Schedule 7 to, the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999.

The amendment inserts a new sub-section (3A) into clause 62. This amendment is needed to correct an omission in the Bill that will allow hardship payments to be made in cases where both members of a joint-claim couple for Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) are sanctioned for alleged breach of a community sentence or for employment-related reasons. The power to make hardship payments where only one member of the couple is subject to a community sentence sanction is contained in clause 62(3) and (4) of the Bill.

The new sub-section provides the Secretary of State with the power to prescribe:

  • the rate at which hardship payments shall be made (3A(a));
  • the information to be provided by the couple (3A(b)); and
  • the circumstances in which hardship payments shall be made (3A(c)).

It is intended that hardship payments for joint-claim JSA couples where both members are subject to a community sentence or employment sanction will be made in a similar manner to those made for other JSA claimants and for joint-claim couples where both members are subject to an employment sanction.

It is intended that the regulations will provide that the amount of JSA payable will be reduced by 40% of the appropriate personal allowance for a single person (20% if a member of the couple is pregnant or seriously ill). It is intended that regulations made under 62(£A)(b) will provide that the couple will have to give the Benefits Agency details of their financial circumstances. They will also have to provide details of the availability of essential items such as food, clothing and accommodation so that the risk of hardship occurring can be assessed. As will be the case with hardship payments in respect of an employment sanction, if it is decided that the joint-claim couple would suffer hardship if JSA is not paid, a reduced rate JSA hardship payment will be made.

Clause 64

Following the recommendation in the report of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee, these amendments extend the list of powers subject to the affirmative resolution procedure in clause 64(4) to include those made under clause 61(3) and (4).

In addition, the Government has decided to make regulations made under 62(3)(a) (the amount of hardship payment which may apply when the sanction applies to one member of a joint-claim couple in a JSA claim) and the new 62(3A) described above also subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

Copies of this letter go to Dr Philippa Tudor (DPSC Secretariat) and the Library.

10 May 2000


 
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