PART V: MISCELLANEOUS |
220. The Government wishes to minimise bureaucracy
and provide a flexible funding framework for the provision of
support services by local authorities. The new system will replace
the current complex arrangements, and give local authorities a
new rôle in the provision of support services.
CLAUSE 64: GRANTS FOR WELFARE SERVICES
221. Clause 64 enables Government to make a new
specific grant available to local authorities towards any expenditure
incurred by them in funding or providing welfare services. To
ensure that the level and quality of support provision are consistent
across local authorities, the clause includes the following powers
for the Secretary of State in England and the National Assembly
- to determine the purpose of the grant (subsection
- to determine the amount of the grant (subsection
- to attach terms and conditions to the grant (subsection
- to provide guidance and directions to local authorities
about how to use the grant (subsections 64(8) and (9)).
222. It is essential to set out the purpose of
the grant in order to ensure that it is spent on those welfare
services which enable vulnerable people to live independently
in the community. The precise purpose of the grant has not been
specified on the face of the Bill. Decisions on the exact scope
of the grant will be determined by, among other things, information
collected under the Transitional Housing Benefit Scheme, and future
decisions on the precise rôle of Housing Benefit.
Terms and conditions
223. Subsection 64(5) sets out the Secretary
of State's or the Assembly's powers to attach terms and conditions
to the grant including, under subsection 64(6), the power to make
provision for the circumstances under which grant must be repaid.
224. It will be important for central government
to have the ability to attach conditions to the grant for the
provision of support services for vulnerable people. Should the
new funding framework be mismanaged or badly implemented those
affected would the most vulnerable people in the community. To
avoid such cases, central government requires some control over
the manner in which the grant is used, and recourse to recoup
the grant in certain circumstances.
225. Subsections 64(8) and (9) set out the Secretary
of State's and the Assembly's powers to provide guidance and directions
to local authorities.
226. While wishing to allow authorities to address
the needs of their communities locally, the Government also wishes
to be able to ensure that authorities approach the new grant in
a manner which is broadly consistent and which takes account of
best practice. The guidance will be generally used to establish
CLAUSE 65: HOUSING BENEFIT
227. Clause 65 makes amendments to the Social
Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 in order to provide
that, in future, Housing Benefit will not meet charges in respect
of payments for welfare services. It amends the Secretary of State's
powers under that Act to make regulations about the provision
of Housing Benefit.
228. Use of regulations will allow this provision
to be 'phased in'. Phased implementation will help to ensure that
the proposals are implemented smoothly and that best practice
could be shared and fed into future roll-out, especially with
regard to the local authority process.
229. This procedure will allow for Parliamentary
scrutiny of the regulations under the arrangements in the 1992
Act. The Government believes this to provide an appropriate, and
at the same time comprehensive, level of scrutiny.
Allowances and Pensions for Local Authority Members
CLAUSE 66: ALLOWANCES AND PENSIONS FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY
230. Clause 66 gives the Secretary of State a
power to make regulations on the payment of allowances and pensions
to members of local authorities. The Government proposes to table
amendments to this clause so that it more accurately reflects
the Government's policy on modernising councillors' remuneration.
This policy can be summarised as follows:
- the abolition of attendance allowance,
- a requirement that councils set up independent
panels to make recommendations on allowances, and
- enabling payments received by some councillors
in executives to be treated as pensionable.
231. It is envisaged that the amendments will
place much of the provision that is needed on the face of the
Bill. It is likely therefore that the scope of any remaining provision
for delegated powers will be significantly narrower than the current
232. A supplementary memorandum will therefore
be submitted to the Committee when the amendments are laid, setting
out the details and reasons for the remaining delegated powers.