Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20
TUESDAY 5 MARCH 2002
20. You will appreciate that the Regulatory
Reform Act does lay down what consultation is needed for measures
being considered under that procedure.
(Mr Ramsden) Yes.
21. So it is that Act that one has to follow
if one is coming forward with proposals for this Committee to
consider and, at the end of the day, this Committee has to be
satisfied that the correct and adequate consultations have taken
(Mr Ramsden) Indeed, Chairman, and obviously in accordance
with that, the proposals that the Government was seeking to place
in the order were the subject of public consultation during the
course of last year.
22. Public consultation, but you did not feel
that this particular body should have been included within that?
(Mr Ramsden) We did seek to send the Committee, or
its Secretariat more specifically, a copy of the Government's
proposals as part of the consultation process. As you may be aware,
there is some issue as to whether those proposals were in fact
disseminated to Members of the Advisory Committee, but certainly
our intention had been to include them in the consultation process
and we did indeed send a copy of the proposals to the Secretariat
of the Committee.
23. Why do you not put a check on your e-mails
to tell you that it has been delivered?
(Ms Hutt) It had been delivered.
(Mr Ramsden) We did in fact do that.
24. I just want to turn to the 200 to 300 who
are being disadvantaged a year. I am not quite sureand
I apologise because I came in latewas that 200 to 300 being
disadvantaged after taking the minimum income guarantee into account
or will some of them not be disadvantaged if MIG applies to them?
(Ms Hutt) It is hard to answer that. What you mean
by "disadvantaged" is
25. They will lose a benefit when they reach
a certain age.
(Ms Hutt) If that brings them into the minimum income
guarantee, they will be brought up to that level. Yes, that might
be less than their total income before when they did have invalid
26. I am still trying to get at the 200 to 300.
Are you saying that in spite of the minimum income guarantee,
they will still be disadvantaged?
(Ms Hutt) I cannot answer that. The loss of the invalid
care allowance might well trigger minimum income guarantee for
them. There is no way of knowing. Everyone's circumstances are
different. It is a means tested benefit.
27. You are not saying that there will still
be a lot potentially left after the minimum income guarantee?
(Ms Hutt) No, I have not compared it with the minimum
income guarantee. There is no way of knowing because we do not
know what the individual incomes of carers are. Invalid care allowances
are a non means tested benefit. We do not ask them what their
other income is, so there is no way of knowing whether or not
they slot into . . . We are saying that there will be some people
who will lose their invalid care allowance when they cease to
28. But we are talking about people going over
the age of 65?
(Ms Hutt) Yes.
29. Will these people be automatically encouraged
to apply for other benefits that might be available such as minimum
income guarantee? Will that happen automatically?
(Ms Hutt) The decision letter will advise them about
other benefits that might be available for them and it will be
up to them to claim.
(Mr Ramsden) Certainly at the moment of course there
is a strongly running initiative by the Government to encourage
take-up of the minimum income guarantee.
Mr Brown: That is true but there is still a
huge number of people who do not take it up even though there
is this campaign.
30. What assumptions have you made about the
rate of increase of the MIG?
(Ms Hutt) None. We are not basing these proposals
on how far the minimum income guarantee will come up. The proposals
are not related, if you like, to the rates of the minimum income
(Mr Ramsden) The figures included in the letter are
rates as of currently and not, as it were, projected into the
future by uprating.
31. So really, like all of us, you do not know
what future levels of the MIG will be.
(Ms Hutt) We do not know what future levels of MIG
will be, no. All we can say is that for very many people over
the age of 65, it seems like about 95 per cent of carers over
65, continue caring anyway. That is quite a high concession. It
means that the concession never kicks in for them. They are still
carers; they still carry on getting the benefit. We are looking
at a very small percentage of people who cease caring. They are
then, if you like, in the same position as a non carerthat
is what this renders them intoand they have underpinnings,
with reservations obviously on some of your parts, that a non
carer would have; a pensioner who is not a carer is subject to
32. I just put this point to you with regard
to removing this anomaly in a different way in that you could
alter Section 70(6) and amend it to enable those who start claiming
at over 65 continue to receive if they cease to be carers. You
could do it that way if you were so minded.
(Ms Hutt) It is a question of how the Government is
minded, how Ministers are minded. They want to help carers who
are older carers, lower income carers and the other part of the
package as you know is people who are in a particularly vulnerable
position after bereavement. Those are the people they want to
help. That proposal is not part of the proposed package, if you
like. What it would mean would be that a large number of people
over 65 who may claim might then, after one week's caring, be
entitled to carry on claiming thereafter. Whether that is a proper
use of public money is the question to ask.
(Mr Ramsden) I think it would be arguable in those
circumstances that what you would be having is an extension of
a fairly unusual provision in the social security structure which
was established a quarter of a century ago for a particular reason,
which to some extent has now ceased to exist, enlarged and perpetuated
really for a different reason into a new group of customers which,
shall we say, would almost certainly create further anomalies
and difficulties in time to come.
33. You will appreciate that, as Members of
Parliament, we still get constituents protesting about the changes
in reduced earnings allowance which was an item quite a long number
of years ago; I still receive letters on it and I am sure that
many of my colleagues do. This is one of the reasons why we are
particularly concerned about a change. We understand that you
would want to remove an anomaly but the main thing comes back
to the issue that I raised earlier, that you are saying that it
is on the merits of the case, not the specific numbers, although
we understand that far more people will be gaining than will be
(Ms Hutt) Yes.
34. Are there any circumstances where a person
could be given ICA but not the carer's premium?
(Ms Hutt) Yes, if their income was over the MIG.
(Mr Ramsden) Higher income partners of people where
the household income is above income support levels is an example.
35. So technically they could be in a situation
where they actually lose ICA totally which is more than the £24
carer's premium that you talked about.
(Ms Hutt) They could but again they still have the
underpinning of the MIG. If they are on a higher income level
such as they are not getting carer premium, that suggests that
they have other income, but they would still have that other income
and, should they slip into the MIG zone, then they would be helped
accordingly. We also come back to this MIG underpinning.
Chairman: Can I thank you for coming along;
it has been helpful to us. We now have to discuss what you have
told us and reach our decision.