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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 10 December 2012

Communities and Local Government

New Homes Bonus

The Minister for Housing (Mr Mark Prisk): Today, I am pleased to announce £661 million of provisional new homes bonus funding for local authorities in England. This includes the third instalment of £199 million in respect of year one, the second instalment of £232 million in respect of year two, and £230 million for housing growth in year three of the bonus.

The bonus will be paid in respect of 142,000 homes and 13,000 long-term empty properties brought back into use in the last recorded year. The allocations also include the second affordable homes bonus, which totals £20.3 million in respect of 58,000 new affordable homes in the last recorded year.

These allocations bring the total amount of funding awarded under the new homes bonus since it began in April 2011 to almost £1.3 billion. This total recognises delivery of over 400,000 homes, and over 50,000 empty properties being brought back into use.

The new homes bonus is a powerful, simple and transparent incentive for housing growth. It is a key part of the housing growth focus of our national housing strategy. Commenced in April 2011, the bonus is based on the council tax of additional homes and those brought back into use, with an additional amount for affordable homes, paid for the six years following delivery. It ensures that those local authorities which promote and welcome growth can share in its economic benefits, and build the communities in which people want to live and work.

The bonus is a flexible, unring-fenced fund, which can be used to support front-line services, to provide housing infrastructure or to keep council tax down. Local authorities are best placed to understand the barriers to growth in their areas, the needs of their local communities and lead a mature debate about the benefits that growth can bring.

There are already good examples of local authorities using the bonus in a variety of ways. For example, Warwick council have developed a joint venture partnership with the Waterloo Housing Group to deliver over 1,000 new affordable homes, and will ring-fence and recycle back into the scheme all new homes bonus payments generated by additional new homes built. Leicestershire county council is using its new homes bonus funding to work with its district authorities to provide 60 affordable homes in rural areas.

The new homes bonus forms an important part of the Government’s proposals to allow local authorities to benefit from economic growth by allowing them to keep a proportion of their business rates.

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Local authorities will have until 7 January to make representations on their provisional allocations. The Department has written to local authorities with details for making representations on their authority’s provisional allocations. We have asked for some further details from 29 authorities regarding the data they have provided in respect of empty homes brought back into use. We will consider their response as part of the wider representations process on provisional allocations. As such, the figures above do not include an amount for empty homes for those authorities. Final allocations, due in late January/early February next year, will include a full allocation for all elements of new homes bonus.

A full list of the provisional allocations is being placed in the Library of the House. Further information on the bonus, including the second new homes bonus bulletin Unlocking the Bonus can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/increasing-the-number-of-available-homes/supporting-pages/new-homes-bonus.

Defence

HMS Audacious

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): I wish to inform the House that the Ministry of Defence has signed a contract, worth approximately £1.2 billion, with BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines to deliver HMS Audacious, the fourth submarine in the Astute submarine class.

This contract covers the remaining elements of design and build work on HMS Audacious. In addition to the contract for HMS Audacious, contracted work on other boats of the class now includes: boat 5 (named HMS Anson) where £646 million is currently committed; boat 6 where £498 million is currently committed; and boat 7, where £328 million is currently committed.

The Astute class submarines are the most powerful and advanced attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. Lessons learned during work on the first three submarines in the class, HMS Astute, Ambush and Artful, will lead to further improvements in Audacious’s capability and performance, and to financial savings.

The UK has a world-class submarine-building industry in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, sustaining around 5,000 BAE Systems Maritime-Submarine’s jobs across the UK. Of these, the Astute programme supports over 3,000 jobs at the company. It also supports thousands of highly skilled jobs through around 400 suppliers across the UK submarine supply chain.

Energy and Climate Change

Ministerial Correction

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker): I would like to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 26 November 2012,

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Official Report

,

column 45W to the hon. Member for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) was incorrect. The hon. Member asked when the Secretary of State plans to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Walsall North of 15 October 2012 on behalf of a constituent.

The response stated that a reply had been sent on 21 November 2012. This was incorrect, due to an administrative error. The correct response should have been that the reply was signed by the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker) on 6 December 2012.

The substance of the information contained within that letter is as follows:

The insulation industry has a very important role in the delivery of both the green deal and energy companies obligation (ECO) in the future, building on the success already achieved in recent years of improving the energy efficiency of huge numbers of properties. However, we are at a point of transition, and there are certain changes which seem to me inevitable and necessary.

In the first place, the nature of the insulation challenge is changing. By the end of the year over 65% of lofts will be fully insulated, with only very small numbers left with no insulation at all. It is therefore inevitable that the number of loft insulations being delivered will fall and that the number of jobs in the loft industry will naturally decline. By contrast, we have as a nation barely begun to tackle our uninsulated solid wall properties and as we focus more on this challenge, we can expect the overall number of jobs in the insulation industry to increase significantly under the green deal and ECO, rising on our estimates to between 27,000 to 42,000 next year, and 39,000 to 60,000 by 2015.

We are also, in the current economic climate, faced with tough choices about how and where to spend money which is ultimately gathered from all energy consumers. It must be targeted where it is needed most. ECO, therefore, is intended to support harder-to-treat, more expensive measures, such as solid wall insulation, and to provide support for the poorest and most vulnerable households. The loft and cavity insulation industry has benefited from support from schemes like energy efficiency commitment (EEC) and carbon emissions reduction target (CERT) for many years, with the costs borne by bill payers, and once individual consumers have a mechanism (which they will do in the green deal) to allow them to pay for these cost-effective measures themselves, I believe there is far less need to continue supporting these measures.

That said, we have listened carefully to industry concerns about potential cliff edges in the number of loft and cavity wall insulation jobs. We have made a number of important changes to support the transition from CERT and community energy saving programme (CESP) to green deal and ECO. We have:

Made sure far more cavities are eligible for ECO support than our original consultation proposals, by including around 3 million hard-to-treat cavities as eligible;

Made sure more lofts are eligible for support by defining broad low-income areas where ECO can fund loft insulation, and by allowing ECO to support loft insulation when delivered in packages;

Ensured that it is now possible for companies to carry forward over-achievement of CERT and CESP towards their ECO targets, where the work carried out would also qualify under ECO;

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Provided £2 million of support, through the Sector Skills Council, for training and retraining of insulation installers towards the new solid wall insulation market; and

In addition to the actions taken by DECC, Ofgem issued a letter on 21 September which outlined their approach to compliance for the CERT/CESP schemes. This included their intention to take into account if energy companies have taken mitigating actions, such as continuing to progress delivery against any missed targets once the scheme has closed on 31 December. This means that the insulation industry will continue to benefit from measures delivered under CERT/CESP alongside those delivered under ECO for the first part of 2013.

The revised ECO order, now titled the “Energy Companies Obligation”, was laid before Parliament on Tuesday 30 October and is available to view from the following link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2012/9780111530276/contents. ECO will come into force from 1 January 2013, but also includes a provision allowing activity from 1 October 2012 to count towards energy suppliers’ eventual ECO targets.

Most of the green deal framework came into force on 1 October 2012, and Government are introducing the green deal through supporting a responsible and controlled approach with full national systems testing. This is to ensure the market has the opportunity to build over the next 18 months, meeting Government’s ambition for a national energy efficiency retrofit across the next decade and beyond.

To support demand for the green deal, we are giving £12 million of funding to seven major cities across the country who are well advanced in their plans to deliver the green deal. The money will support “demonstrator” projects to trial key aspects of the green deal and support future green deal activity in these “Core Cities”. Activity includes green deal assessments, loan arrangements to fund work and show homes to provide local examples of what can be achieved. Around 2,500 properties across all tenures could benefit. Building on this, we are offering other local authorities in England the opportunity to bid for £10 million of funding to support early delivery of, and promote future demand for, the green deal. The “Pioneer Places” competition is part of a broader £40 million competition aimed at driving local initiatives to boost energy efficiency, reduce fuel poverty and encourage collective switching and purchasing.

On 19 October, we further announced a “cash back” offer, designed to incentivise consumers to take up the green deal. It will be available from 28 January 2013 to all consumers in England and Wales who make a financial contribution to the installation costs of energy efficiency measures under green deal, whether or not they take out green deal finance. Loft insulation (including top up) and insulating cavity walls (where appropriate) are important, basic energy-saving measures. So where a green deal assessment recommends these alongside other improvements, householders will only be able to get the cash back if they do those too.

Financial support, through green deal finance, will also be available from 28 January 2013 to support green deal plans. Whilst our position is that green deal finance should (as befits a market mechanism) be primarily delivered through the private sector, we strongly recognise the importance of ensuring that finance is widely available to providers including SMEs. We have taken some key steps in recent weeks in support of green deal finance which should give confidence to the market. These

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include a loan to the Green Deal Finance Company that has enabled it to proceed with critical implementation work for a large-scale financing vehicle. In addition, we announced on 8 August that DECC and HM Treasury are considering whether the green deal could be an early candidate for the use of infrastructure guarantees, with a view to enabling the delivery of low cost finance. The green deal remains an early priority for the green investment bank.

On a related matter, I would like to take the opportunity to tell the hon. Gentleman about the Government’s Energy Saving Advice Service (ESAS). If any of his constituents would like to find out what consumer offers are available to them, they can use this phone service by telephoning 0300 123 1234 (noting that calls are charged at national rates and are free if transferred to the Warm Front helpline). ESAS provides advice on how to reduce bills and make homes more energy efficient. Details can also be found at: www.gov.uk/energyhelp.

Energy Council

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Mr John Hayes): The United Kingdom was represented by Shan Morgan, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU, at the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 3 December 2012.

The presidency reported on recent progress in the negotiations of the proposal for a regulation on the safety of offshore oil and gas. The Council and the European Parliament both agreed that they would prefer a strong and appropriate directive rather than a directly applicable regulation. The Commission noted that it was the content of the proposal rather than the legal form that was important and that it would be prepared to move away from a regulation if a directive provided for the highest safety standards. The Irish Presidency will aim for rapid agreement of the dossier in 2013.

The Council agreed conclusions on the Commission’s recent communication on a strategy for renewable energy. The Commission noted that there was a need for a post-2020 target framework and to make it acceptable to all member states.

The Commission then presented its communication “Making the internal energy market work”, which had been produced in response to the European Council’s wish to see completion of the internal energy market by 2014. The Commission noted that lack of investment was an issue for all member states and that the Commission needed to address the issue of market design. There were problems in electricity security of supply as a result of the increased use of renewables; the EU needed to improve interconnections to make best use of the network and needed flexible backup capacity, which should be dealt with at the EU-level. The Commission plans to put forward a proposal in 2013 for binding guidelines for the application and implementation of aid to the energy sector; this will cover feed-in tariffs and capacity mechanisms.

In the debate that followed, a number of member states shared the Commission’s concerns about capacity markets. The UK and two other member states noted the importance of addressing serious electricity security of supply concerns resulting from the move to less predictable generation sources. The UK emphasised

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that it would work closely with the Commission to ensure that the internal market would not be compromised by any new capacity mechanisms.

On renewables, member states were divided in their support for post-2020 binding targets. The UK noted the need for a post-2020 framework but said that specific targets for renewables would not be welcome as they did not give member states sufficient flexibility to deliver emissions reductions as cost-effectively as possible. The Commission said that there was a need for discussion of 2030 targets suggesting that the May 2013 European Council would be a good opportunity.

Some member states raised concerns about the Commission’s intention to issue a proposal on nuclear liabilities given they regarded nuclear safety as being a more important issue. The Commission said that there was a need for a degree of obligatory insurance for nuclear liabilities. Proposals for a revision of the nuclear safety directive would come out in early 2013.

On other issues, the presidency noted the successful agreement with the European Parliament Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee of the regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure. The Commission and presidency also reported on a number of international energy related items and meetings, including the upcoming EU/US Energy Council, the Energy Community, the Energy Charter, EU-Russia and the southern corridor.

Finally, Ireland outlined priorities for its presidency, principally taking forward work on the internal energy market and the post-2020 framework.

CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker): On 26 March 2012, Official Report, columns 89-90WS. I published a formal consultation setting out our ambitious simplification package for the CRC energy efficiency scheme. Since then we have engaged extensively with stakeholders on our proposals and received over 250 responses to our consultation. The majority of responses agreed with our proposals for simplifying the scheme and welcomed the package of simplification proposals.

The Department will now publish a formal Government response to our consultation. Our simplification package for CRC will radically reduce the administrative costs to participants by over half (55%), which will deliver around £272 million savings for CRC participants up to 2030. The package will reduce both the complexity of the scheme and its overlap with other climate legislation, without undermining its energy efficiency objectives.

We have also gone further in a number of our simplifications. We have reduced the number of fuels that participants need to report to two, to reflect the fact that electricity and gas make up the vast majority of the CRC’s emissions coverage. We are also introducing an assumption that all gas used is for heating purposes and a 2% de minimis threshold on gas (for heating), reducing the reporting burden for organisations with very low gas consumption.

I understand participants’ concerns around the performance league table and have decided to abolish it. Participants’ aggregated energy use and emissions data

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will continue to be made public annually in line with the Government’s transparency agenda, which will ensure that CRC participants’ energy efficiency behaviour remains visible.

We are also bringing in a number of simplifications in advance of the beginning of phase two of the CRC, which will both help to reduce the administrative burden and allow participants to feel the benefits of simplification earlier. The key proposals which will be bought in for the last two years of phase one (2012-13 and 2013-14) are the reduction in fuels reported and the de minimis on gas, both of which will reduce the complexity of the scheme immediately.

Our simplification package optimises the projected energy and carbon savings delivered by the CRC energy efficiency scheme while reducing its complexity and administrative cost.

I will lay the necessary statutory instrument to implement the simplification package for the CRC scheme before the House shortly.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Gibraltar

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): In my written ministerial statement of 18 July 2011, Official Report, column 79WS, I informed the House of the legal action that the Government were pursuing to reverse the adoption by the European Commission of a proposal from the Spanish Government to designate a site of Community importance (SCI) under the EU habitats directive (92/43/EEC). The SCI in question, named Estrecho Oriental, entirely overlaps the existing southern waters of Gibraltar SCI, which was listed by the UK and is managed by HM Government of Gibraltar, and overlaps virtually the whole of British Gibraltar territorial waters.

The UK Government launched a legal case against the Commission’s decision in the European General Court on 22 December 2009 on the basis that the UK was the only EU member state competent to propose an SCI listing in respect of British Gibraltar territorial waters and had already done so before Spain submitted its Estrecho Oriental listing. However, on 24 May 2011 the General Court ruled our case inadmissible on technical grounds. In my previous written ministerial statement I announced that the Government would appeal against the decision of the General Court and we duly did so. Our appeal has been heard by the European Court of Justice which published its judgment on 29 November 2012. I regret to inform the House that the Court has upheld the judgment of the General Court and dismissed the UK’s appeal. The Court has also dismissed the appeal of HM Government of Gibraltar in a separate legal case on the same issue.

The Government are disappointed by the judgment of the Court of Justice. However, this ruling is, like that of the General Court, on technical grounds and is not a judgment on the substantive points which were raised in the Government’s case. The judgment does not mean that the UK Government recognise the Spanish Estrecho Oriental SCI listing. Nor does it confer any rights on

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Spain within British Gibraltar territorial waters. We are confident of the UK’s sovereignty over British Gibraltar territorial waters. The Court’s judgment does not change that. Nor is our position on sovereignty changed by the Spanish Government’s announcement on 30 November that they have formally approved plans to designate the Estrecho Oriental site of Community importance as a special area of conservation (SAC). The UK Government do not recognise the original Spanish SCI listing and we do not recognise their attempt to designate an SAC either. We have made our position on this clear to the Spanish Government.

We would take a grave view of any attempts by Spain to exert any authority or control within British Gibraltar territorial waters as part of implementation of an SAC management plan or for any other reason. Any attempt by a Spanish state vessel, or vessel acting on behalf of the Spanish state, to exercise jurisdiction within British Gibraltar territorial waters is a violation of British sovereignty and we will respond accordingly. We will continue to take whatever action we consider necessary to protect British sovereignty and the interests of Gibraltar, its people and economy.

Following the judgment of the Court of Justice and the announcement of Spain’s SAC we are taking urgent steps, in consultation with HM Government of Gibraltar, to explore all further legal and political options to remove the Spanish listing and protect British and Gibraltar’s interests. I will continue to inform the House of significant developments on this issue.

UK Election Campaign (UN Human Rights Council)

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): My right hon. Friend the Senior Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Baroness Warsi, has made the following written ministerial statement:

Today, on 10 December, UN human rights day, I will host the London launch of the UK’s campaign for election to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for January 2014 to December 2016.

The UK is committed to strengthening the UN’s mechanisms for driving progress on international adherence to human rights standards, demonstrated by our constructive and thorough approach to our universal periodic review, led by the Ministry of Justice in May. Membership of the HRC would reaffirm our commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms across the world.

We have been a strong supporter and active contributor to the HRC since its inception in 2006. Through the HRC, we have been able to turn rhetoric on human rights into accountability and lasting change, leading initiatives on issues including the prevention of torture and combating intolerance. Though the HRC, we have called to account those countries who commit the most serious and widespread violations against their own citizens, for example in Belarus, Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Most recently, the HRC has been at the forefront of the international response to the crisis in Syria, mandating the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria to investigate human rights violations and abuses. Membership of the HRC will help ensure the UK stays at the front of efforts to hold those responsible for crimes in Syria to account.

We would use a place at the table to promote appropriate attention to country situations and to priority human rights themes. We would fight hard against those who seek to weaken or undermine international human rights mechanisms.

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Throughout our campaign we will focus on four key human rights priorities: protecting those most vulnerable in societies, working towards human dignity for all, responding proactively to evolving challenges, and keeping human rights at the heart of multilateral priorities.

This year, Ministers agreed the HRC should be the UK’s top priority international election for 2013. A budget of £30,000 has been allocated between this and one other priority international election the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

For colleagues who are interested, I have today placed a more detailed background note in the Libraries of both Houses.

Health

UK Life Sciences

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr Jeremy Hunt): Today, the Prime Minister has announced the Government’s intention to pump-prime the sequencing of 100,000 whole genomes over the next three to five years. This work will initially focus on cancer and rare diseases which, together with infectious diseases, are already showing patient benefit.

The potential of the information contained in the human genome is recognised as one of the most important health care opportunities of modern times. This initiative will include funding for staff training and developing bioinformatics support to prepare the NHS to make the paradigm shift from sequencing individual genes to scanning whole genomes. It will change fundamentally the way we view disease, monitor its progression and use this knowledge to transform health care. It will help patients get targeted treatments for them as individuals. The NHS Commissioning Board will lead on a delivery framework and service design with an aim to have contracts in place by April 2014 at the latest.

The Department of Health is working closely with colleagues in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the NHS Commissioning Board to ensure that clinicians, patients, researchers and the wider public are involved in promoting the adoption of genomic technology to provide better health care and help research and the wider economy. The Government will also put in place careful safeguards for the storage each patient’s genome sequence and the use of anonymised data for research, which will be overseen by the chief medical officer for England.

This new initiative will form part of the next phase of the “Strategy for UK Life Sciences”, launched 12 months ago by the Prime Minister, which declared our commitment to a sector we see as vital to the UK’s long-term economic prospects. This work will also complement “Innovation Health and Wealth, Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS”, published by Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, which is updated today. The UK is well placed to play a world-leading role in this next phase of the biomedical revolution, thanks to its first-class science and research base and the unique position of the NHS as a single health care provider. We remain at the forefront of genetic science innovation, translating this into real benefits for NHS patients. The Government and the NHS Commissioning Board will ensure that NHS patients benefit and that there is a clear strategy to take advantage of opportunities in genomics.

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In addition, the Minister for Universities and Science, my right hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Mr Willetts), Department of Business and Skills is today announcing that part of the science capital committed in the Chancellor’s recent “Autumn Statement 2012” will be for projects in the life sciences: in synthetic biology; regenerative medicine; and biologies.

Transport

Think! (Road Safety Campaign)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I wanted to update the House on the launch of the Government’s latest Think! road safety campaign, targeted at drink-driving.

Action by successive Governments over the last 30 years has meant that the number of people killed in drink-drive accidents has been reduced by over three-quarters since 1979. But drink-driving remains a problem; 280 people lost their lives in 2011 in drink-drive accidents on Britain’s roads.

Working in partnership with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), so that people see education and enforcement working together, the Government have just relaunched their successful Think! campaign aimed at reminding drivers—particularly young drivers, who are over-represented in the casualty figures—of the risks of getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol: http://think.direct.gov.uk/.

The ACPO enforcement anti-drink and drug-driving enforcement campaign seeks particularly to focus on well-intentioned drivers who do not think they are breaking the law but may be over the legal limit by the time they get into their cars in the morning.

Separately, at the end of last week I launched a further round of the very successful designated driver campaign, in partnership with Coca-Cola. Now in its fifth year, the nationwide campaign offers designated drivers a “buy one get one free” deal on Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero at participating pubs. The campaign began last Thursday and will run until the end of December. Further details are available at: http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/designated-driver/.

Work and Pensions

Child Maintenance

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): Today I can confirm the Government will introduce their new, “pathfinder” statutory child maintenance scheme, which will be available to a very limited number of new applicants at the outset. All other cases will remain on existing schemes for the time being.

This Government are determined to avoid the mistakes of the past, when the 2003 scheme was launched too quickly and for too many clients. Through the pathfinder approach we will ensure that the 2012 scheme is operating effectively, before it is opened to all clients.

Eligibility for the 2012 scheme is based on the number of children—qualifying for child maintenance—named in the application. For the purposes of the pathfinder, there must be at least four children with the same two

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parents named in the application, and the parents must have no existing child support case in respect of those children, for that application to be administered under the scheme, otherwise it will be handled according to the 2003 scheme rules.

Welfare Reform Regulations

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith): I am pleased to announce that later today the Department intends to lay and publish the following draft affirmative regulations:

The Universal Credit Regulations 2013;

The Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013;

The Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 2013;

The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013;

The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013; and,

The Social Security (Payments on Account of Benefit) Regulations 2013.

Universal credit is the most significant reform of the welfare system for a generation. By removing the barriers and disincentives to work and making the system simpler. Universal credit will make sure work pays—especially for those on the lowest incomes, helping people to live independent lives. This will reduce worklessness, and encourage people to take personal responsibility. Universal credit will act as a “launch pad” for motivating people back into work, fostering confidence and self-esteem and helping to end the dependency culture; and significantly reduce the cost of fraud and error to the taxpayer.

Work can transform individual lives and society for the better and should be encouraged. Earning a wage is the best route out of poverty, but work also has many other benefits beyond an income; it promotes personal responsibility, boosts confidence, self-esteem, and motivation, provides a structure to everyday life, and gives people a sense of being part of a community. There will be continued financial support for individuals who cannot work. But for those who can work, no one should be consigned to living a life on benefits alone if they have the potential and capability to work.

These regulations are being laid to support the introduction of universal credit, following the passage of the Welfare Reform Act 2012. They reflect the financial information provided by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his autumn statement on 5 December.

The Universal Credit Regulations 2013—set out provisions for universal credit, including entitlement, elements of the award, calculation of income and capital, and claimant responsibilities. The regulations also make provision for a benefit cap.

The Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2013—reflect the Government’s decision to introduce universal credit from 29 April 2013 only for a small number of claimants in certain categories. This “pathfinder” will test the core proposition in a defined geographical area in Oldham, Warrington, Tameside and Wigan. The specific postcodes in which the pathfinder will operate will be set out in an order commencing the relevant provisions of the Act. The Government will

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only expand this scope via further regulations or a commencement order. The Government will bring forward further provisions to provide for periods beyond the pathfinder.

The Jobseeker’s Allowance Regulations 2013—remove income-related rules and provide for an award of jobseeker’s allowance based only on national insurance contributions. The 2013 regulations bring jobseeker’s allowance substantially into line with universal credit work-related requirements, and otherwise the provisions are very similar to the existing rules for contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance under the 1996 Regulations (SI 1996/207). A copy is available on the DWP website http://www.dwp. gov.uk/docs/a11-4001.pdf.

The Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013—remove income-related rules and provide for an award of employment and support allowance based only on national insurance contributions. The 2013 regulations bring employment and support allowance substantially into line with universal credit work-related requirements, and otherwise the provisions are very similar to the existing rules for contributory employment and support allowance under the 2008 Regulations (SI 2008/794). A copy is available on the DWP website

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/a13-5101.pdf.

The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013—make provision in relation to the administration of these four benefits, in particular the making of decisions where there are disputes, changes in circumstances and doubts about awards; and in relation to rights of appeal. The regulations include a new requirement for claimants to apply to the Secretary of State for a decision to be revised before they can make an appeal. The regulations also make provision for electronic communications.

The Social Security (Payments on Account of Benefit) Regulations 2013—provide for the introduction both of universal credit advances and short-term benefit advances (for claimants of prescribed existing benefits), replacing existing interim payments and some crisis loans, and of budgeting advances replacing existing budgeting loans for some claimants.

The Government are publishing an updated impact assessment for universal credit. This also covers information concerning the Department’s obligations regarding its equality duty. A copy will be made available later today on the DWP website at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-act-2012/impact-assessments-and-equality/.

Under section 173(5) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992, the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 do not fall within the requirement to be referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC). Nevertheless, given the scope and importance of these reforms, I invited the Committee to undertake a special exercise to scrutinise the regulations.

SSAC undertook a public consultation exercise in June 2012 as part of their review, and included consultation on the Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/2994) and the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Claims and Payments) Regulations 2013.

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I also referred the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2013, the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 2013 and the Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 to the Committee under section 172(1) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. The Committee decided not to hold a formal consultation about these regulations but welcomed representations on any parts of those regulations insofar as they impact on the coherence of the overall legislative programme.

The Department will publish an Act Paper covering the Secretary of State’s response to the SSAC report on these regulations. A copy will be available later today on the Department’s website at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-act-2012/welfare-reform-regulations/.

The Department has undertaken extensive stakeholder engagement throughout the development of the regulations. As a result the policies take account of the valued input

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we have received. This engagement is continuing as part of the development of delivery plans and guidance to support claimants and staff.

The draft regulations laid today and associated explanatory memorandum will be made available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and can be accessed from: www.legislation.gov.uk or from the DWP website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-act-2012/welfare-reform-regulations/.

The Department will also publish today a policy briefing note on the final proposals for transitional protection for claimants moved from an existing benefit to universal credit during later stages of the migration process. A copy will be available later today on the Department’s website at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-act-2012/welfare-reform-regulations/.