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Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill - continued        House of Lords
PART II, BEREAVEMENT PAYMENT - continued

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Work-focused interviews
Claim or full entitlement to certain benefits conditional on work-focused interview.     53. After section 2 of the Administration Act there shall be inserted-
 
 

"Work-focused interviews
Claim or full entitlement to certain benefits conditional on work-focused interview.     2A. - (1) Regulations may make provision for or in connection with-
 
 
    (a) imposing, as a condition falling to be satisfied by a person making a claim for a benefit to which this section applies, a requirement to take part in a work-focused interview;
 
    (b) imposing, in a case where-
 
      (i) a person is entitled to such a benefit, and
 
      (ii) any prescribed circumstances exist,
 
    a requirement to take part in such an interview as a condition of that person continuing to be entitled to the full amount which is payable to him in respect of the benefit apart from the regulations.
      (2) The benefits to which this section applies are-
 
 
    (a) income support;
 
    (b) housing benefit;
 
    (c) council tax benefit;
 
    (d) widow's and bereavement benefits falling within section 20(1)(e) and (ea) of the Contributions and Benefits Act (other than a bereavement payment);
 
    (e) incapacity benefit;
 
    (f) severe disablement allowance; and
 
    (g) invalid care allowance.
      (3) Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision-
 
 
    (a) for securing, where a person would otherwise be required to take part in interviews relating to two or more benefits-
 
      (i) that he is only required to take part in one interview, and
 
      (ii) that any such interview is capable of counting for the purposes of all those benefits;
 
    (b) for determining the persons by whom interviews are to be conducted;
 
    (c) conferring power on such persons or the designated authority to determine when and where interviews are to take place (including power in prescribed circumstances to determine that they are to take place in the homes of those being interviewed);
 
    (d) prescribing the circumstances in which persons attending interviews are to be regarded as having or not having taken part in them;
 
    (e) for securing that the appropriate consequences mentioned in subsection (4)(a) or (b) below ensue if a person who has been notified that he is required to take part in an interview-
 
      (i) fails to take part in the interview, and
 
      (ii) does not show, within the prescribed period, that he had good cause for that failure;
 
    (f) prescribing-
 
      (i) matters which are or are not to be taken into account in determining whether a person does or does not have good cause for any failure to comply with the regulations, or
 
      (ii) circumstances in which a person is or is not to be regarded as having or not having good cause for any such failure.
      (4) For the purposes of subsection (3)(e) above the appropriate consequences of a failure falling within that provision are-
 
 
    (a) where the requirement to take part in an interview applied by virtue of subsection (1)(a) above, that as regards any relevant benefit either-
 
      (i) the person in question is to be regarded as not having made a claim for the benefit, or
 
      (ii) if (in the case of an interview postponed in accordance with subsection (7)) that person has already been awarded the benefit, his entitlement to the benefit is to terminate immediately;
 
    (b) where the requirement to take part in an interview applied by virtue of subsection (1)(b) above, that the amount payable to the person in question in respect of any relevant benefit is to be reduced by the specified amount until the specified time.
      (5) Regulations under this section may, in relation to any such reduction, provide-
 
 
    (a) for the amount of the reduction to be calculated in the first instance by reference to such amount as may be prescribed;
 
    (b) for the amount as so calculated to be restricted, in prescribed circumstances, to the prescribed extent;
 
    (c) where the person in question is entitled to two or more relevant benefits, for determining the extent, and the order, in which those benefits are to be reduced in order to give effect to the reduction required in his case.
      (6) Regulations under this section may provide that any requirement to take part in an interview that would otherwise apply to a person by virtue of such regulations-
 
 
    (a) is, in any prescribed circumstances, either not to apply or not to apply until such time as is specified;
 
    (b) is not to apply if the designated authority determines that an interview-
 
      (i) would not be of assistance to that person, or
 
      (ii) would not be appropriate in the circumstances;
 
    (c) is not to apply until such time as the designated authority determines, if that authority determines that an interview-
 
      (i) would not be of assistance to that person, or
 
      (ii) would not be appropriate in the circumstances,
 
    until that time;
  and the regulations may make provision for treating a person in relation to whom any such requirement does not apply, or does not apply until a particular time, as having complied with that requirement to such extent and for such purposes as are specified.
      (7) Where-
 
 
    (a) a person is required to take part in an interview by virtue of subsection (1)(a), and
 
    (b) the interview is postponed by or under regulations made in pursuance of subsection (6)(a) or (c),
  the time to which it is so postponed may be a time falling after an award of the relevant benefit to that person.
 
      (8) In this section-
 
 
    "the designated authority" means such of the following as may be specified, namely-
 
      (a) the Secretary of State,
 
      (b) a person providing services to the Secretary of State,
 
      (c) a local authority,
 
      (d) a person providing services to, or authorised to exercise any function of, any such authority;
 
    "interview" (in subsections (3) to (7)) means a work-focused interview;
 
    "relevant benefit", in relation to any person required to take part in a work-focused interview, means any benefit in relation to which that requirement applied by virtue of subsection (1)(a) or (b) above;
 
    "specified" means prescribed by or determined in accordance with regulations;
 
    "work-focused interview", in relation to a person, means an interview conducted for such purposes connected with employment or training in the case of that person as may be specified;
  and the purposes which may be so specified include purposes connected with a person's existing or future employment or training prospects or needs, and (in particular) assisting or encouraging a person to enhance his employment prospects.
 
Supplementary provisions relating to work-focused interviews.     2B. - (1) Regulations under section 2A above shall make provision for conferring (except in any prescribed circumstances) a right of appeal under section 12 of the Social Security Act 1998 against a decision under the regulations that a person-
 
 
    (a) has failed to comply with a requirement to take part in an interview which applied to him by virtue of the regulations, or
 
    (b) has not shown, within the prescribed period mentioned in section 2A(3)(e)(i), that he had good cause for such a failure, or
 
    (c) is liable to suffer any particular consequences of such a failure.
      (2) Regulations made by virtue of subsection (1) above may make provision for treating, for the purposes of section 12 of that Act, any such decision made by or on behalf of a local authority as a decision of the Secretary of State made under section 8 of that Act.
 
      (3) In the following provisions, namely-
 
 
    (a) section 3(1) of the Social Security Act 1998 (use of information), and
 
    (b) section 68(6) of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 (supply of information)
  any reference to information relating to social security includes any information supplied by a person for the purposes of an interview which he is required to take part in by virtue of section 2A above.
 
      (4) In this section "interview" means a work-focused interview within the meaning of section 2A above."
 
Optional work-focused interviews.     54. After section 2B of the Administration Act (inserted by section 53 above) there shall be inserted-
 
 
"Optional work-focused interviews.     2C. - (1) Regulations may make provision for conferring on local authorities functions in connection with conducting work-focused interviews in cases where such interviews are requested or consented to by persons to whom this section applies.
 
    (2) This section applies to persons making claims for or entitled to-
 
 
    (a) any of the benefits listed in section 2A(2) above, or
 
    (b) any prescribed benefit;
  and it so applies regardless of whether such persons have, in accordance with regulations under section 2A above, already taken part in interviews conducted under such regulations.
 
      (3) The functions which may be conferred on a local authority by regulations under this section include functions relating to-
 
 
    (a) the obtaining and receiving of information for the purposes of work-focused interviews conducted under the regulations;
 
    (b) the recording and forwarding of information supplied at, or for the purposes of, such interviews;
 
    (c) the taking of steps to identify potential employment or training opportunities for persons taking part in such interviews.
      (4) Regulations under this section may make different provision for different areas or different authorities.
 
      (5) In this section "work-focused interview", in relation to a person to whom this section applies, means an interview conducted for such purposes connected with employment or training in the case of such a person as may be prescribed; and the purposes which may be so prescribed include-
 
 
    (a) purposes connected with the existing or future employment or training prospects or needs of such a person, and
 
    (b) (in particular) assisting or encouraging such a person to enhance his employment prospects."
 
Jobseeker's allowance
Couples to make joint claim for allowance.     55. Schedule 7 (which makes provision in connection with requiring certain couples to make joint claims for an income-based jobseeker's allowance) shall have effect.
 
Special schemes for claimants for jobseeker's allowance.     56. - (1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for or in connection with the participation of claimants for a jobseeker's allowance in schemes of any prescribed description, being schemes established for designated areas in Great Britain (or for the whole of Great Britain) and designed to assist such persons to obtain sustainable employment.
 
      (2) Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision-
 
 
    (a) for the imposition during any prescribed period, as additional conditions for entitlement to a jobseeker's allowance applying in the case of persons participating in schemes, of requirements to take steps determined in accordance with the regulations with a view to improving those persons' prospects of securing employment;
 
    (b) for the suspension, during any prescribed period, of any prescribed conditions that would otherwise apply to such persons.
      (3) Regulations under this section may make provision for any provisions of the Jobseekers Act 1995 to apply for the purposes of the regulations subject to prescribed modifications.
 
      (4) The provisions of that Act which may be so applied include in particular any provisions of-
 
 
    (a) section 19 or 20A (circumstances in which jobseeker's allowance is not payable); or
 
    (b) section 20 or 20B (exemptions from section 19 or 20A).
      (5) The Secretary of State may for the purposes of, or in connection with, any scheme-
 
 
    (a) make such arrangements (whether or not with other persons) for the provision of any facilities,
 
    (b) provide such support (by whatever means) for arrangements made by other persons for the provision of any facilities,
 
    (c) make such payments-
 
      (i) by way of fees, grants, loans or otherwise, to persons undertaking the provision of facilities under arrangements within paragraph (a) or (b),
 
      (ii) by way of grants, loans or otherwise, to persons participating in the scheme, or
 
      (iii) in respect of any incidental expenses,
 
    as he considers appropriate.
      (6) In subsection (5) "facilities" includes services, and any reference to the provision of facilities includes the making of payments to persons participating in the scheme.
 
      (7) The power of the Secretary of State to make an order under section 26 of the Employment Act 1988 (status of trainees etc.) shall include power to make, in relation to-
 
 
    (a) persons participating in any scheme, and
 
    (b) payments received by them by virtue of subsection (5) above,
  provision corresponding to any provision which (by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) of that section) may be made in relation to persons using such facilities, and to such payments received by them, as are mentioned in subsection (1) of that section.
 
      (8) In this section-
 
 
    "designated" means designated by the Secretary of State;
 
    "employment" has the meaning given by regulations under this section;
 
    "prescribed" means specified in or determined in accordance with regulations under this section;
 
    "scheme" means a scheme such as is mentioned in subsection (1).
 
Incapacity for work
Incapacity for work: personal capability assessments.     57. For section 171C of the Contribution and Benefits Act there shall be substituted-
 
 
"Personal capability assessments.     171C. - (1) Where the own occupation test is not applicable, or has ceased to apply, in the case of a person, the question whether the person is capable or incapable of work shall be determined in accordance with a personal capability assessment.
 
    (2) Provision shall be made by regulations-
 
 
    (a) defining a personal capability assessment by reference to the extent to which a person who has some specific disease or bodily or mental disablement is capable or incapable of performing such activities as may be prescribed;
 
    (b) as to the manner of assessing whether a person is, in accordance with a personal capability assessment, incapable of work.
      (3) Regulations may provide that, in any prescribed circumstances, a person to whom subsection (1) above applies shall, if the prescribed conditions are met, be treated as incapable of work in accordance with a personal capability assessment until such time as-
 
 
    (a) such an assessment has been carried out in his case, or
 
    (b) he falls to be treated as capable of work in accordance with regulations under section 171A(2) or (3) above or section 171E below.
  The prescribed conditions may include the condition that it has not previously been determined, within such period as may be prescribed, that the person in question is or is to be treated as capable of work.
 
      (4) Except in prescribed circumstances, a personal capability assessment carried out in the case of a person before the time when subsection (1) above applies to him shall be as effective for the purposes of that subsection as one carried out thereafter.
 
      (5) The Secretary of State may, in the case of a person who for any purpose of this Act has been determined to be incapable of work in accordance with a personal capability assessment (including one carried out by virtue of this subsection), require the question whether the person is capable or incapable of work to be determined afresh in accordance with a further personal capability assessment."
 
 
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Prepared 22 July 1999