|Welfare Reform Bill - continued||House of Commons|
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127. Subsection (1) of new section 6C provides that in the event that a conviction is quashed all payments that would have been made but for the sanction are to be made as if no restriction had been imposed.
128. Subsection (2)(a) of new section 6C provides that where the person had agreed to pay an administrative penalty but has withdrawn that agreement, all payments that would have been made but for the sanction are to be made as if no restriction had been imposed.
129. Subsection (2)(b) of new section 6C provides that where, following a review or appeal, it is decided that there was no overpayment or that it is not recoverable, all payments that would have been made but for the sanction are to be made as if no restriction had been imposed.
130. Subsection (3) of new section 6C provides for subsection (4) to apply where the person had agreed to pay an administrative penalty, but following a review or appeal the amount of the overpayment is revised.
131. Subsection (4) provides that where there is a new penalty or caution relating to the same offence, the new disqualification period is to be reduced by the length of the old disqualification period and that in any other case the necessary adjustments are to be made to reverse the effects of the sanction.
132. Subsection (4)(b) of new section 6C provides that if a new agreement to pay an administrative penalty is not made then all payments that would have been made but for the sanction are to be made as if no restriction had been imposed and the Government can proceed to prosecute the offence.
133. Subsection (2) of clause 19 introduces Schedule 4 which contains further amendments to the Social Security Fraud Act 2001 and related amendments to other legislation.
134. This clause inserts into the Jobseekers Act 1995 two new sections, new section 20C (sanctions for violent conduct in connection with claim) and new section 20D (section 20C supplementary).
135. Subsection (1) of new section 20C makes provision for a benefit sanction of one week to be applied to jobseekers allowance claimants who are successfully convicted of or, in England and Wales, cautioned for violent or threatening behaviour towards Jobcentre Plus or contracted out staff. In addition, for the sanction to apply it is necessary that -
136. Subsection (2) provides for (a) benefit not to be payable for a period of one week in the case where the jobseekers allowance claim is not a joint claim even if the conditions of entitlement are satisfied; and (b) the period of any other sanction also to be extended by five weeks on the first occasion that the other sanction applies to the claimant.
137. Under Subsection (3), for the purposes of subsection (2) the reference to another sanction is to any other sanction arising as a result of the Jobseekers Act 1995 and during which jobseekers allowance is not to be payable. It explains that the sanctions period which is to be extended by five weeks is the period of that other sanction arising out of the Jobseekers Act 1995.
138. Under Subsection (4) for joint claim jobseekers allowance the offender will be treated in the same way as in subsection (2) above, namely a sanction of one week will be applied, and that if another sanction is imposed it will be increased by five weeks in the same way.
139. Subsection (5) explains in relation to a joint claim jobseekers allowance that the reference to another sanction is to any other sanction arising as a result of the Jobseekers Act 1995 and during which jobseekers allowance is not to be payable. It also explains that the sanctions period which is to be extended by five weeks is the period of that other sanction arising out of the Jobseekers Act 1995.
140. Subsection (6) provides for regulations to set out that after a certain period the sanctions in subsections (2) and (4) will not apply to the claimant of jobseekers allowance or that in certain circumstances the sanction will not apply to the claimant.
141. Subsection (7) makes provision for hardship payments to be made during the sanction period. This does not apply in the case of a sanction of a joint-claim jobseekers allowance as in subsection (4). Corresponding provision is made for them by section 20B(4).
142. Subsection (8) provides that regulations may be made for hardship payments in subsection (7) to be paid as follows -
143. Subsection (9) provides that where a conviction is subsequently overturned the amount of sanctioned benefit would be repaid as if the person had never been convicted of the offence in the first place.
144. New section 20D sets out in subsection (1) the offences involving violence in England and Wales in respect of which the sanction will be applied. These are-
145. Subsection (3) sets out that in Scotland the offences in respect of which the sanction will be applied are assault, a relevant breach of the peace, and racially aggravated harassment under section 50A of the Criminal Law (Consolidation) Scotland Act 1995. The sanction will also be applied to the ancillary and preparatory offences in Scotland which are being art and part in the commission of the offence, inciting a person to commit the offence, or attempting or conspiring to commit the offence.
146. Subsection (4) states that a breach of the peace in Scotland is relevant if it involves acts which, if committed in England and Wales, would be equivalent to the offences of threats to kill, affray, fear or provocation of violence, intentional harassment, alarm or distress, harassment, alarm or distress, or the offences of harassment or putting people in fear of violence.
147. Subsection (6) explains the meaning of cautioned in England and Wales only.
148. Subsection (7) provides for regulations to be made for requiring prescribed persons (such as the police or the prosecuting agencies) to notify the Secretary of State of any offences set out in new section 20D in respect of which a sanction may be applied, as in new section 20C.
149. Subsection (8) provides for amendments to be made by regulation to subsections (1) to (5) by removing or adding offences.
150. Subsection (3) of clause 20 amends section 37(1)(c) of the Jobseekers Act 1995 so that the regulation making power found in subsection (8) of new section 20D will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
151. Subsection (4) makes a consequential amendment to paragraph 3(d) of Schedule 3 to the Social Security Act 1998. This will give those whose benefit is sanctioned a right of appeal about the payability of their benefit.
152. This clause inserts new section 18A into the State Pension Credit Act 2002. It makes provision to pilot, for a period of up to two years, ways in which state pension credit entitlement may be calculated and paid in order to increase the numbers of eligible persons receiving benefit.
153. To achieve this, the clause allows regulations to be made which would permit the payment of state pension credit without a claim being made and with modified rules concerning how the entitlement is determined.
154. Subsection (3) specifies that these regulations can be made in order to ascertain whether they would lead to more people claiming state pension credit who may be entitled to it, or would make it more likely that people who are entitled to state pension credit will receive it.
155. Subsections (5) and (6) allow for the normal rules relating to the need for a claim, and the detailed rules about the calculation of entitlement to be modified for the purposes of the pilot.
156. Subsection (7) provides that this does not affect a persons entitlement to other benefits, such as housing benefit, or a persons tax liabilities.
157. Subsection (8) allows regulations to specify who the pilot applies to.
158. To ensure people are not disadvantaged by the pilot coming to an end, subsection (9) makes provision to allow transitional arrangements to be made.
159. This clause amends section 29 of the Jobseekers Act 1995 and section 19 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007 which allow for the piloting of regulations made under specified enactments relating to working-age benefits. Piloting regulations can have effect only in specified areas and in relation to specified classes of persons. Persons can be selected for participation in schemes on a sampling basis. At the moment, piloting regulations can only have an effect for a maximum of 12 months under section 29(1) of the 1995 Act and a maximum of 24 months under section 19(1) of the 2007 Act. Subsections (1)(a) and (2) extend and align both these time limits to 36 months. Subsection (1)(b) amends section 29 of the 1995 Act to mirror the language used in section 19 of the 2007 Act so as to create consistency and to ensure that regulations which are aimed at making it more likely that persons will obtain or remain in work or be able to do so can be piloted.
160. This clause provides a general provision to allow the contracting out of certain functions of the Secretary of State under the Jobseekers Act 1995.
161. Subsection (2) of clause 23 inserts new section 20E before section 21 of the 1995 Act. This provides for particular functions of the Secretary of State and the functions of the officers of the Secretary of State to be carried out by authorised persons.
162. Subsection (3) provides for regulations to enable the relevant functions to be contracted out and subsections (5) and (6) provide for those regulations to include the extent to which the contracting out arrangements are to apply.
163. Some types of decisions, for example failure to comply with requirements, good cause for failure, and any reductions in jobseekers allowance are excluded and cannot be contracted out. Under these provisions any authorisation to a contractor may specify the duration for which the authorisation applies. The clause also makes provision for the revocation of an authorisation and deals with the limits of any liabilities arising out of functions carried out by an authorised person.
164. Subsection (3) substitutes references to employment officers with officer of the Secretary of State in other parts of the 1995 Act so that it is aligned with the new terminology. Subsections (4) and (5) include further consequential changes.
165. This clause amends section 8 of the Jobseekers Act 1995. Section 8 allows regulations to be made providing for entitlement to jobseekers allowance (JSA) to cease for between one and five days if the claimant fails to attend a mandatory interview and subsequently makes contact with Jobcentre Plus within a prescribed period of the date of the mandatory interview without showing good cause for the failure to attend. Regulations set out that the prescribed period is five working days.
166. This new provision will mean that in the above circumstances, JSA entitlement will continue but will not be payable for a fixed period of at least one week and not more than two weeks.
167. In addition, regulations will provide that if a person fails to attend a mandatory interview for the second or subsequent time, a fixed sanction of two weeks will be applied whilst keeping the claim open.
168. If the person makes contact with Jobcentre Plus within the prescribed period of five working days and shows good cause in both circumstances, a sanction would not be imposed.
169. Example: If Mavis Jones fails to attend a mandatory interview on Monday and attends the Jobcentre Plus office on Wednesday of the same week but fails to demonstrate good cause for failing to attend, a sanction of the loss of a weeks JSA would be imposed but Maviss claim will remain open. If she fails to attend a mandatory interview for the second time in respect of the same claim and cannot show good cause, she would lose two weeks JSA but her claim would remain open.
170. The usual appeal rules apply for both cases.
171. This clause also amends section 8 of the 1995 Act to allow regulations to provide that if the claimant fails to make contact with Jobcentre Plus within the prescribed period of five working days from the failure to attend, his or her claim would be closed.
172. Example: If John Smith fails to attend a mandatory interview on Tuesday and makes contact with Jobcentre Plus on Wednesday the following week, his claim will be closed.
173. The new paragraph being inserted into Schedule 1 to the Jobseekers Act 1995 expands the scope of data-sharing powers under that Act to enable information sharing which is relevant for any provision in or made under the Act. It does this by providing that such information should be taken to be social security information. This is linked to the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, in which section 72 deals with data-sharing for social security purposes, between Ministers of the Crown, people carrying out functions on their behalf, or designated by a Minister of the Crown, and local authorities.
174. The new subsections being inserted into sections 2A and 2AA of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 relates to the use of that section of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 and broadens the definition of social security information to include information not just related to work-focused interviews, but information shared for the purposes of any provision made by or under the Act, including in regulations.
175. Subsection (4) amends section 72 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, to reflect this change. The amendments would also allow the Secretary of State to make regulations concerning the sharing and use of employment and training information. For example, regulations could permit a person providing a training course for a jobseeker's allowance claimant pursuant to arrangements made by Jobcentre Plus to provide information to Jobcentre Plus about the claimant's record of attendance and levels of attainment.
176. Section 2A of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 allows regulations to be made requiring a person who is under 60 years of age who is claiming any one of a number of specified benefits to take part in a work-focused interview, as a condition of continuing to receive the full amount of that benefit. Section 2AA of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 extends this requirement so that where the claimant has a partner, and both are under 60 years of age, they are both required to attend work-focused interviews.
177. From April 2010 the process of equalising state pension age at 65 (as provided by the Pension Act 1995) for both men and women will begin. The state pension age for women will gradually be increased over a 10 year period until it reaches 65.
178. To reflect these changes, the age at which a person will be required to take part in a work-focused interview will also increase.
179. Clause 26 removes the references in sections 2A and 2AA to a person being under 60 years of age, and replaces them with references to a person who has not attained pensionable age. Subsections (2)(c)and (3) provide a definition of when a man born before 6 April 1955 will be treated as having attained pensionable age.
180. Section 80 of the Social Security (Contributions and Benefits) Act 1992 provided that incapacity benefit, severe disablement benefit, state pension, carers allowance, widows benefit and bereavement benefit could be increased where a person was receiving child benefit in respect of a child, defined as a person under the age of 16, or a person under the age of 19 who was still in full time education.
181. When child tax credits were introduced in 2003, child dependency increases ceased and section 80 was repealed; however it was preserved for those cases where the increase was already in payment, until such time as the child reached the age of 16, or 19 where he or she remained in full-time education.
182. The definition of a child was amended to a person who has not attained the age of 16 from 10 April 2006 when the Child Benefit Act 2005 came into force. A new definition of qualifying young person applies to a person over 16 years of age who meets certain conditions set out in the Child Benefit (General) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006 No. 223).
183. No amendments were made to change the definitions for the purposes of preserved child dependency increases, with the consequence that these may only be paid in respect of a child who has not reached the age of 16.
184. Subsections (1) and (2) of clause 27 will ensure that the preserved right to a child dependency increase under sections 80 and 81 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 can continue for a child over 16 who meets the relevant conditions.
185. Subsection (3) of clause 27 amends section 150(2) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (interpretation of Part 10: Christmas bonus) to amend a provision of the Welfare Reform Act 2007. This resulted in entitlement to a Christmas bonus to all claimants of employment and support allowance, including income-related employment and support allowance. This did not achieve the policy intention of taking forward the existing distinction between contributory incapacity benefit and income-related income support.
186. Incapacity benefit can be increased for adult dependants aged 60 or over or who are caring for children. This applies to a spouse or civil partner aged 60 or over with care of a child or qualifying young person (the adult must be residing with or maintained by the claimant) and an adult with care of a child (the adult must be residing with or maintained by the claimant). Section 88 of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 prevented more than one increase being paid to one person. Without it a person might be able to claim more than one increase on the basis that he or she has a spouse or civil partner who meets the relevant conditions and that there is another adult who also meets the relevant conditions as the carer of a child. Section 89 of the 1992 Act provides for occupational pensions to be treated as earnings, which in some cases means that an increase is not payable. Without it, the increase would become payable in some cases. Both sections 88 and 89 of the 1992 Act have been erroneously repealed by the Welfare Reform Act 2007. This means that in some circumstances people may be paid more than one increase and that some increases will be due since occupational pensions can no longer be treated as earnings. The amendment in clause 27(4) restores the policy intention and will ensure that a person can get an increase for only one adult dependant and that occupational pensions are treated as earnings.
Clause 28: Purpose of part
187. This clause sets out the purpose of the Part: namely to enable disabled people aged 18 or over to have greater choice and control over the way certain services are provided to or for them by defined public authorities. The clause does not create a right to control. This Part of the Bill contains a series of enabling powers which will allow the making of regulations that confer new rights on disabled people. These rights are together referred to in these Notes as the right to control
188. Subsections (1) and (2) define as relevant services the services to which regulations under this Part may relate.
189. Subsection (3) extends the definition of relevant services to include the provision by a relevant authority (defined in clause 30) of grants or loans to a disabled person.
190. Subsection (4) provides that relevant services do not include excluded services. Excluded services are defined in subsections (5) and (6). The excluded services are services which are already the subject of a direct payments scheme.
191. This clause defines the public authorities who administer the services that could be brought within the scope of the right to control.
192. Subsection (1) provides a general power for an appropriate authority (defined in clause 35) to make regulations for the purpose set out in clause 28.
193. Subsections (2) to (6) give details of particular matters for which regulations under subsection (1) may provide. Subsection (2)(a) to (c) enables regulations to be made that require an authority to not only assess a disabled persons needs, but to prepare, in consultation with the disabled person, a plan outlining how the authority proposes to meet the disabled persons needs as well as reviewing and revising that plan when necessary (for example after a change in needs). Subsection (2)(d) enables regulations to require the authority to make payments to the disabled person (at his or her request) to secure provision of an equivalent service instead of providing the service itself.
194. Subsection (3) sets out further details of the provisions that may be included in regulations. Paragraph (a) provides that regulations may specify who is or is not to be treated as a disabled person for the purpose of the regulations. Paragraph (b) enables regulations to make provision to determine whether a public authority has exercised its discretion to provide a service to a person. The need for this power arises from the fact that the disabled persons rights to a different service or to a direct payment may depend on whether such a decision has been made. Paragraph (c) gives a power to prescribe the matters which a public authority should take into account when making a decision under this Part of the Bill. Paragraph (d) gives a power to make provision about the steps this public authority must take when making a decision regarding its duties under this Part of the Bill.
195. Subsection (4) enables regulations to allow information to be shared between authorities for the prescribed purposes of the regulations.
196. In subsection (5), paragraph (a) enables regulations to vary conditions attached to any grant made by a relevant authority to a disabled person where it is necessary for the operation of the right to control. Paragraph (b) enables regulations to vary conditions attached to any power of a relevant authority to provide financial assistance to another relevant authority in connection with the provision of relevant services. An example of this would be the variation of grant conditions in relation to a grant from a central government department to a local authority.
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