Universal Credit (Application, Advice and Assistance) Bill (HC Bill 132)

A

BILL

TO

Reform the Universal Credit application process; to make provision about
advice and assistance for claimants, and arrangements for payments; and for
connected purposes.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1 Universal credit initial application period

(1) This administration by the Secretary of State of an initial application for
universal credit made under or by virtue of Part 1 of the Welfare Reform Act
2012 must meet the requirements of this section.

(2) 5It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to secure that, except where the
conditions in subsection (3) are met, the period of time between a claimant
submitting a claim and receiving, in their chosen bank account, the first
payment of universal credit should not exceed one calendar month in any case
where the application meets the relevant eligibility criteria.

(3) 10The conditions in this subsection are that the Secretary of State is satisfied
that—

(a) the particular circumstances of the consideration and processing of the
application mean that it is not practicable to comply with the duty in
subsection (2), and

(b) 15non-compliance with the duty in subsection (2) in those circumstances
will not lead to more than 1 per cent of applications in any one six
month period not being processed in accordance with the duty in
subsection (2).

(4) In any case where subsection (3) applies, the claimant shall be entitled to
20receive the first payment of universal credit based on an initial period of
entitlement, as defined in subsection (5).

(5) An initial period of entitlement means the period of time starting on the day on
which an initial application has been submitted by the claimant and ending

Universal Credit (Application, Advice and Assistance) BillPage 2

with the day on which the first payment of universal credit is received by the
claimant.

(6) A claimant shall not be required to make a request for any payment received
under subsection (4).

2 5Universal credit payment options

(1) Arrangements for universal credit payments made under or by virtue of Part 1
of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 must meet the requirements of this section.

(2) Claimants must be provided with information on all payment options during
the universal credit application process.

(3) 10Information provided under subsection (2) must be provided in such a way
that enables the claimant to understand it.

(4) Payment options must include, but shall not be limited to,—

(a) bimonthly universal credit payments direct to claimants;

(b) monthly universal credit payments direct to claimants;

(c) 15monthly payments comprising—

(i) housing payment direct to a claimant’s landlord, and

(ii) universal credit payments, excluding the housing payment,
direct to claimants.

(5) In the case of joint claimants, universal credit payment must be apportioned
20and paid directly to each person in a couple, subject to the exceptions in
subsection (6).

(6) The exceptions are that either—

(a) joint claimants have provided written consent for their housing
payment to go directly to their landlord; or

(b) 25 joint claimants have provided written consent that the payment should
not be apportioned and paid directly to each person in a couple.

3 Universal credit application process for persons with terminal illness

(1) The handling by the Secretary of State of an application for universal credit
made, by a claimant with a terminal illness, under or by virtue of Part 1 of the
30Welfare Reform Act 2012 must meet the requirements of this section.

(2) A claimant shall be deemed to have a terminal illness for the purpose of this
section if a relevant registered medical practitioner has determined that the
claimant has a reasonable probability of death within 6 months.

(3) In this section “relevant registered medical practitioner” means a registered
35medical practitioner by whom or under whose direction the claimant has been
assessed or treated in relation to the terminal illness.

(4) Where a claimant meets the requirements of subsection (2) that person (or a
representative on their behalf) shall be entitled to receive, from the relevant
registered medical professional, a medical report that includes—

(a) 40diagnosis and other relevant conditions;

(b) information about whether the person is aware of their condition and
prognosis, and, where the person is unaware, the name and address of
the person’s representative requesting the report;

Universal Credit (Application, Advice and Assistance) BillPage 3

(c) clinical features which indicate a severe progressive condition
(examination findings and results of investigations including staging if
appropriate); and

(d) relevant treatment including response and planned treatment or
5interventions that may significantly alter the prognosis.

(5) Where a claimant has provided, for the purpose of an application of universal
credit, a report under subsection (4), the claimant shall—

(a) not be required to provide further evidence relating to their health,

(b) be entitled to receive any universal credit payments, for which they
10qualify, within two weeks of providing the report, and

(c) not be required to meet any work-related requirement.

4 Implicit consent for certain persons providing assistance on behalf of
claimants of universal credit

(1) A claimant will not be required to provide explicit consent for any Member of
15Parliament, Member of the Scottish Parliament, or Member of the National
Assembly for Wales representing the constituency in which the claimant is
ordinarily resident to provide assistance on the claimant’s behalf in relation to
an application for universal credit.

(2) The Secretary of State shall by regulations made by statutory instrument
20provide other relevant individuals or advisory bodies with implicit consent to
provide assistance on behalf of claimants of universal credit.

(3) A statutory instrument containing regulations under this section is subject to
annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

5 Equality impact assessment

(1) 25It shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to conduct an equality impact
assessment of—

(a) the universal credit application process,

(b) the arrangements for payments of universal credit,

(c) the changes in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs (a) and (b)
30made by this Act, and

(d) any further changes in relation to the matters specified in paragraphs
(a) and (b).

(2) Any equality impact assessment under this section must be completed—

(a) in respect of the matters specified in subsection (1)(a) to (c), within three
35months of the passing of this Act,

(b) in respect of the matters specified in subsection (1)(d), prior to the
implementation of the changes.

(3) In conducting an equality impact assessment under this section, the Secretary
of State must consult the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government and
40have regard to their views.

(4) Any equality impact assessment under this section must be laid before each
House of Parliament as soon as practicable after its completion.

Universal Credit (Application, Advice and Assistance) BillPage 4

6 Interpretation

In this Act—

  • “claim”, “claimant”, and “joint claimants” have the meaning given by
    section 40 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012;

  • 5“first payment of universal credit” means the first universal credit
    payment received by a claimant who has submitted an initial
    application for universal credit, in respect of that application;

  • “housing payment” has the meaning given by article 2 of the Rent Officers
    (Universal Credit Functions) Order 2013;

  • 10“initial application” means an application for universal credit by a
    claimant that is, at the time of submitting the application, not already
    receiving any universal credit payments for which they are eligible;

  • “initial period of entitlement” has the meaning given by section 1(5);

  • “joint claimants” has the meaning given by section 39 of the Welfare
    15Reform Act 2012;

  • “submitting a claim” means the point at which a claimant completes and
    approves the submission of the completed universal credit form to the
    Secretary of State, and references to a claim being submitted by a
    claimant shall be construed accordingly;

  • 20“work-related requirement” has the meaning given by section 13 of the
    Welfare Reform Act 2012.

7 Financial provision

The following are to be paid out of money provided by Parliament—

(a) any expenditure incurred under or by virtue of this Act by the Secretary of
25State, and

(b) any increases attributable to this Act in the sums payable under any other Act
out of money so provided.

8 Extent, commencement and short title

(1) This Act extends to England and Wales and Scotland.

(2) 30Sections 1 to 3 of this Act come into force at the end of the period of three
months beginning with the day on which this Act is passed.

(3) Sections 4 to 8 this Act come into force on the day on which this Act is passed.

(4) This Act may be cited as the Universal Credit (Application, Advice and
Assistance) Act 2018.