Select Committee on Social Security Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by Child Poverty Action Group (CS 49)

  1.  Further to our oral evidence to the Committee, we thought it useful to follow up on two points.

COST OF INCREASING THE MAINTENANCE DISREGARD ON INCOME SUPPORT TO £15.

  2.  The estimated cost of disregarding maintenance at various levels is as follows:



Level of disregard
Cost per year

£10 a week
£100 million
£15 a week
£140 million
£20 a week
£170 million



  (House of Commons Hansard, 19 October 1998, col 696).

SCRUTINY OF REGULATIONS—ROLE OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

  3.  In our oral evidence, we discussed the role of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) in scrutinising regulations. We have considered further the role the Committee might play in scrutinising regulations under a forthcoming Child Support Bill.

  4.  The remit of the Social Security Advisory Committee is contained in section 170 Social Security Administration Act 1992. Regulations under a new Child Support Bill do not fall to SSAC's current remit. The only child support regulations which do so are those relating to the child maintenance bonus.

  5.  In our view, proper scrutiny of the regulations would make for a stronger child support system in the long run. There are two possibilities—either SSAC's remit is widened and resources are increased or, a new body is set up. A forthcoming Child Support Bill could amend the Social Security Administration Act to bring child support regulations within SSAC's remit. The question of the Committee's resourcing and its body of expertise would then need to be reconsidered.

  6.  Incidentally, a similar issue arose regarding scrutiny of the regulations made under the Tax Credits Bill. An amendment was moved by Lord Goodhart to the effect that SSAC should consider tax credit regulations. This was rejected on the grounds that SSAC was set up specifically to advise the Secretary of State for Social Security, not to advise generally on all areas of social policy. Furthermore, it was said that the Inland Revenue made a practice of publishing draft regulations for comment (House of Lords, Hansard, 4 May 1999, col 658).

September 1999


 
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Prepared 19 October 1999