Part V - Welfare |
CLAUSE 48 - EXTENSION OF ENTITLEMENT TO STATE MATERNITY
243. Clause 48 amends section 35 of the Social Security
Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 to extend Maternity Allowance
payments to certain women who earn below the lower earnings limit
for the payment of National Insurance contributions. It replaces
the existing requirement for women to have paid at least 26 Class
1 and/or Class 2 contributions within a reference period with
a requirement that her average weekly earnings in the reference
period should be not less than the "maternity allowance threshold"
(MAT) of £30 a week. Average earnings of less than the lower
earnings limit and at least equal to the MAT will attract weekly
Maternity Allowance payments of 90% of those average earnings,
subject to a maximum of standard rate Maternity Allowance. Women
with average earnings equal to or more than the lower earnings
limit will receive the standard rate of Maternity Allowance. The
measure also equalises the level of standard Maternity Allowance
so that both employees and the self-employed receive the same
244. The legislative framework for Maternity Allowance
payments is set out on the face of the Bill. In the Department's
view, the definition of earnings and the method of calculation
should be in secondary legislation. Specifying earnings and the
method of calculation by secondary legislation as described below
will allow the provisions to be adapted should practical experience
show that changes are needed. This approach follows the present
legislative arrangements for Statutory Maternity Pay.
245. The new section 35(1)(c) provides that one of
the conditions for receiving Maternity Allowance is that a woman's
average weekly earnings are not less than the MAT. Subsection
(4) of new section 35(A) allows regulations to be made to specify
the period which may be used to establish what a woman's average
earnings might be from employment as an employed or self-employed
earner. It is also intended that the method of calculation will
be set out in regulations. Subsection (5) sets out in more detail
what the regulations may cover.
246. For women who are employed earners it is intended
that regulations made under subsection (4)(a) will provide that
the earnings used should be gross earnings on which National Insurance
contributions are payable or would be payable if the earnings
were high enough. This follows the definition which is already
in use for Statutory Maternity Pay in the Statutory Maternity
Pay (General) Regulations 1986 (S.I. No 1986/1960). For the
self-employed it is intended that regulations will treat a woman
who has paid a Class 2 contribution as having received earnings
equal to the lower earnings limit in force for that week. In addition,
to help the low paid self-employed, if a self-employed woman holds
a certificate of Small Earnings Exception in a week in the reference
period (subsection (4)(b) and (5)(c)), she will be treated as
having earnings equal to the MAT applicable in that week.
247. Subsections 5(a) and (b) give further details
concerning what the regulations made under subsection (4) may
cover with regard to the period over which earnings may be calculated
and the method of calculation. It is intended that earnings should
be the average weekly earnings received or treated as received
in a period within the 66 week employment test period. It is intended
that an average should be taken of not less than 13 weeks and
not more than 26 weeks earnings in the test period. The woman
will be able to take account of her best weeks earnings when choosing
which weeks earnings in the test period should count.
248. It is intended that regulations described in
subsection (5)(d) will provide that if a woman has more than one
job in a week, whether or not she is both employed and self-employed,
then this will be taken into account when calculating her average
earnings in the reference period.
249. Subsection (7) contains a provision for the
Secretary of State to increase the level of the MAT if he wishes
by order. The intention is that any such increase would be considered
at the same time as general uprating is considered under section
150 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. Specifying
limits and thresholds by order in this way follows a well established
practice - it enables them to be adjusted annually in the light
of movement in earnings without recourse to primary legislation.
CLAUSE 52 - CLAIM OR FULL ENTITLEMENT TO CERTAIN
BENEFITS CONDITIONAL ON WORK-FOCUSED INTERVIEW
250. Clause 52 provides for the introduction of a
mandatory work-focused interview (the scheme formerly had the
working title of the "Single Work-Focused Gateway",
but will now be known as ONE) into the benefits system for people
of working age who are not in full-time employment. The clause
provides the powers needed to require claimants for certain social
security benefits to take part in work-focused interviews and
the consequences of any failure to meet that requirement.
251. The clause inserts new sections 2A and 2B after
sections 1 and 2 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992
which deal with the requirement for a valid claim to be made in
order to establish entitlement to benefit.
252. The power in section 2A(1) enables regulations
to make provisions 'for and in connection with' imposing the requirement
to take part in a work-focused interview as a condition of entitlement
to benefit or continuing full entitlement to benefit. The clause
goes on to identify particular issues which may be addressed in
the regulations (set out below). The benefits to which this provision
applies are listed in subsection (2).
253. It is intended to pilot the ONE service and
the requirement to take part in work-focused interviews in 12
areas of the country. The likelihood is that the scheme will need
to be adapted in the light of experience in operating the new
arrangements. The detail of how the interviewing process will
work will require detailed technical legislation. For these reasons
the Department considers that these matters are appropriate to
254. Subsection (1)(a) enables regulations to impose,
as a condition of entitlement to benefit, a requirement on those
making a claim to the benefits listed in 2A(2) to take part in
a work-focused interview. It is intended that these interviews
will normally take place at the point of claim, although subsection
(6)(c) makes clear that interviews may be deferred where it would
not be appropriate to require someone to discuss work-related
issues at that time - for example, a person in the early stages
of recovery from a major operation.
255. Subsection (1)(b) enables regulations to provide
for interviews to take place where a relevant benefit is already
in payment. It is intended that regulations will specify that
claimants will be required to take part in interviews on the occurrence
of specified events ('trigger points'), throughout the time benefit
is in payment. For example, where the youngest child of a lone
parent or widow reaches the age of five, or where a claimant receives
the results of a Personal Capability Assessment, or where a claimant
takes up or leaves part-time employment. Interviews may also be
triggered where claimants have not taken part in a work-focused
interview for a specified period of time.
256. Subsections (3) to (7) of the proposed section
2A set out in more detail the ways in which the regulation-making
powers in section 2A(1) may be used:
Subsection (3)(a) enables the regulations to provide
that where someone claims, or is in receipt of, two or more relevant
benefits, separate work-focused interviews will not be required
for each benefit.
Subsection (3)(b) enables regulations to determine
who will conduct the interviews. The intention is to provide for
work-focused interviews to be undertaken by representatives of
the Secretary of State (most commonly employees of the Benefits
Agency or Employment Service), or employees of a local authority
or private or voluntary sector employee contracted to provide
services to either.
Subsection (3)(c) enables regulations to provide
representatives of the Secretary of State and local authority
employees with the power to determine where and when interviews
will take place. This broadly mirrors the provision in section
8 of the Jobseekers Act 1995. It is the intention that most interviews
will take place at a range of easily accessible sites, but the
proposed regulations will make clear that home visits will be
allowed where this would be more appropriate than expecting the
claimant to visit an office.
Subsection (3)(d) enables regulations to specify
the circumstances in which a person is to be treated as taking
part in or not taking part in the interview. It is proposed that
the regulations will set out that the test of whether a claimant
has taken part will be (i) whether they attend an interview at
the time and place specified and (ii) answer questions in areas
relevant to their employment prospects, such as educational qualifications,
previous work history and current barriers to taking up employment.
Subsection (3)(e) and subsection (4) enable regulations
to provide for appropriate consequences to ensue if a claimant
does not take part in a work-focused interview when asked to do
so. The regulations will identify the consequences. Where there
is a failure to take part in an interview at the point of claim
the individual will be regarded as having not completed the claims
process and entitlement to benefit cannot, therefore, be considered.
Where there is a failure to take part in a deferred initial interview
the benefit award will be terminated. Where an individual fails
to take part in a 'trigger point' interview there will be a reduction
in the aggregate amount of benefit in payment. Using regulations
in these sorts of cases follows the precedent in Jobseeker's Allowance,
where regulation 25 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996
(SI 1996/207) sets out the consequences of failing to attend an
Subsection (3)(f) will enable regulations to specify
what constitutes good cause for not taking part in the interview.
It is proposed that the regulations will prescribe circumstances
such as where someone is too ill on the day of the interview to
attend or where a person has misunderstood the requirements placed
upon them because of language, learning or literacy difficulties.
The provision will be non-exhaustive to allow those undertaking
interviews the flexibility to take individual circumstances into
account. This approach of taking regulation-making powers to set
out what constitutes good cause also follows the precedent in
Jobseeker's Allowance, where regulation 30 of the Jobseeker's
Allowance Regulations 1996 covers good cause for failure to attend
Subsection (5) enables regulations to stipulate how
the amount of reduction in benefit will be calculated, how it
will be applied and how long it will last for. Regulations will
also prioritise the benefits against which the reduction should
be applied. The reduction will apply until such time as the claimant
fulfils the requirement to take part in a triggered interview.
Again this approach of taking regulation-making powers to set
out reductions in benefit follows the precedent in Jobseeker's
Allowance, where regulation 145 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations
1996 sets out the amount of reduction in hardship cases.
Subsection (6)(a) enables regulations to prescribe
the circumstances in which the requirement to take part in a work-focused
interview is not to be applied. It is intended to use this power
to exclude claimants who are not of working age and those who
are already in full-time work from the requirement to take part
in work-focused interviews. Recipients of Jobseeker's Allowance
claiming another relevant benefit will similarly be excluded as
they are already subject to a work-focused regime.
Subsection (6)(b) and (c) enable regulations to provide
for the requirement to take part in work-focused interviews to
be postponed where it is determined that an interview would not
be appropriate at that time, or waived altogether. Regulations
will not specify which categories of people should have their
interviews deferred or waived. Rather than taking action according
to some pre-determined categorisation, staff will be expected
to take into account the particular circumstances that each individual
faces in deciding whether it is appropriate to waive or defer
the requirement for an interview.
257. Section 2B enables regulations to confer rights
of appeal against decisions given under regulations made by virtue
of section 2A.
258. Subsection (1) enables regulations to provide
for claimants to have a right of appeal against decisions that
they have not taken part in a work-focused interview; that they
have not shown good cause for not taking part; and a right of
appeal against any decision to reduce the benefit in payment due
to not taking part.
259. Subsection (2) enables provision to be made
for decisions taken by, or on behalf of, local authorities to
be treated, for the purpose of appeal rights, as made by the Secretary
of State. This is to ensure that all decisions, whether made by
a representative of the Secretary of State or a local authority
employee are treated in the same way, with all claimants having
a right of appeal to an independent appeal tribunal in respect
of these decisions.
260. Subsection (3) extends the definition of "information
relating to social security" to include information supplied
as part of a work-focused interview in order to ensure that information
gathered about a client's employability can be passed on to the
personal adviser undertaking their interview.
CLAUSE 53 - OPTIONAL WORK-FOCUSED INTERVIEWS
261. Clause 53 enables regulations to make provision
for conferring functions on local authorities in connection with
conducting voluntary work-focused interviews. This clause will
facilitate closer Government working and the regulations to be
made under it will be used to enable local authorities to play
a full and active part in the delivery of the ONE service (see
262. The Department considers that secondary legislation
is suitable for this purpose. This is because of the level of
technical detail surrounding the precise functions to be conferred
and the need to have flexibility to adjust those detailed functions
in the light of experience of the ONE pilots.
263. The clause inserts new section 2C after section
2B of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 (itself inserted
by clause 52 of this Bill).
264. Subsection (1) enables regulations to confer
on local authorities functions in connection with conducting work-focused
interviews in cases where such interviews are voluntary. These
may arise in two instances:
- People making claims to benefit before
regulations under clause 52 come into effect will be offered the
opportunity of work-focused support from a personal adviser. It
is their choice whether to accept the support.
- Once regulations under clause 52 comes into effect
claimants will be required to undergo mandatory work-focused interviews
at specified points. In addition, claimants will be encouraged
to participate in additional voluntary interviews, in between
the mandatory interventions. This clause complements clause 52
by giving local authorities the power to undertake voluntary
265. The main functions to be conferred on local
authorities are those set out in subsection (3).
266. Regulations under subsection (2) will enable
local authorities to provide such assistance to those people making
claims, or entitled to prescribed benefits. The Government intends
to specify the following benefits in the regulations - Income
Support, Incapacity Benefit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit,
Widows Benefit (and bereavement benefit which will replace it),
Invalid Care Allowance and Severe Disablement Allowance.
267. Subsection (3) sets out that the main functions
to be conferred on local authorities in connection with voluntary
work-focused interviews will be specified in regulations. It is
intended that regulations will enable local authorities to ask
for, and record, personal information relevant for the purpose
of the interview, including information about current and future
employment needs and barriers to employment. It is intended that
regulations will also provide that where such information is gained
during the claimant's initial contacts, such information can be
forwarded to the personal adviser who will conduct the interview
(who may be a member of the Benefits Agency, the Employment Service
or a local authority). The intended regulations will also enable
local authority staff to undertake jobsearch activity with the
client's consent at any stage of the work-focused interview process.
268. Subsection (4) enables regulations to confer
these functions only on those local authorities within the twelve
pilot areas of the ONE service, prior to any decisions about a
wider roll-out of the initiative. Other local authorities will
be unaffected by this provision.
269. Subsection (5) defines the term 'work-focused
interview'. This mirrors the definition of the term in clause
52. It is intended that regulations will prescribe that the purposes
of such an interview may be to assist or encourage claimants to
enhance their employment prospects over time, and to identify
and take steps to overcome the barriers to work they face through
training and specialist support; so that, where appropriate, they
can move towards sustainable employment. To this end, an interview
may cover such areas as previous employment record, capacity to
undertake work, the in-work financial support which is available
and help in areas such as childcare, housing and training.
CLAUSE 54 AND SCHEDULE 7 - COUPLES TO MAKE JOINT-CLAIM
FOR JOBSEEKER'S ALLOWANCE
270. Clause 54 introduces Schedule 7 to the Bill,
which amends the Jobseekers Act 1995. It requires certain couples
without children who wish to claim income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
to make a joint claim.
271. Paragraph 2 amends section 1 of the Jobseekers
Act 1995 which provides for entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance.
It sets out the conditions that a joint-claim couple has to meet
to be entitled to income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. The couple
will be covered by these conditions for as long as their relevant
circumstances remain unchanged, for example, until they find work
or have a child.
272. The principle of requiring joint claims is set
out in the Schedule. Having regard to the degree of detail necessary,
and the fact that the enabling powers mainly mirror and adapt
regulation-making powers in the Jobseekers Act to provide for
joint claims, the Department considers these are matters which
are suitable for secondary legislation.
273. Paragraph 2(3) inserts new section 1(2C) and
(2D) into the Jobseekers Act. Subsection (2C) introduces a power
to make regulations to prescribe circumstances in which a claimant
who is a member of a joint-claim couple can, nevertheless, make
a single claim for Jobseeker's Allowance. It is intended that
this power should be exercised so as to enable such a claim to
be made where one of the joint claimants fails to satisfy the
conditions of entitlement for the joint claim. For example, where
one member of the couple refuses to meet the availability for
work conditions the other member, who is willing to meet the conditions
of entitlement, will be able to claim Jobseeker's Allowance for
himself. If he cannot satisfy the contribution-based conditions,
regulations will allow him to claim income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
on his own behalf as a single claimant, although the couple's
income and capital will be taken into account in determining the
amount of benefit which is paid. The award of income-based Jobseeker's
Allowance will be at the applicable single person's rate with
no additional allowance for the partner who has failed to satisfy
the conditions of entitlement for joint-claim Jobseeker's Allowance.
274. Subsection (2D) introduces a power to include
members of a polygamous marriage within the arrangements for joint
claims for Jobseeker's Allowance. It is intended that this power
will be used to prescribe the detail of the arrangements in regulations.
Where one or more members of the polygamous marriage is born on
or after a specified date (which will be set to cover those under
25 at the time the measure is introduced) and there are no dependent
children of any of the parties in the polygamous marriage, two
members of the marriage will be required to make a joint claim.
One of the joint claimants will always be the male partner, but
the members of the marriage will be able to choose which of the
wives will be the other joint claimant.
275. Paragraph 2(4)(b) contains a power in paragraph
(b) of the definition of "a joint-claim couple" to specify
which couples will be included in the requirement to make a joint
claim. Paragraph (a) of that definition makes clear that couples
with a dependent child for which they are entitled to Child Benefit
are not included in the requirement. This excludes from coverage
the majority of couples who have responsibility for a child. Additionally,
it is intended that the power in paragraph (b) will be used to
provide in regulations for some people who are responsible for
a child, but are not in receipt of Child Benefit to be exempt
from the requirement to make a joint claim. Regulation 77(2) to
(4) of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996 (S.I.1996/207)
currently defines persons who are treated as responsible for a
child. It is intended these people will be excluded from the description
of a member of a joint-claim couple.
276. It is also intended that this power will be
used to prescribe in regulations that, where at least one member
of the couple is born after a specified date, the couple will
be a joint-claim couple; the consequence of this will be that
they must make a joint claim. The power will be exercised so that
at introduction, where at least one member of the couple is aged
18-24, the couple will be covered. The provision will extend,
over time, to a couple of any age, so long as they remain unemployed
and without responsibility for a child. The main definition of
a joint-claim couple is conveyed on the face of the Bill, but
the Department believes it is appropriate for further detail to
be included in secondary legislation. Regulations will also better
provide for the date to be set for including young couples in
the requirement to make a joint-claim by allowing flexibility
in setting the date to ensure that the necessary operational support
is fully in place.
277. Paragraph 4 inserts a new section 3A
into the Jobseekers Act 1995, setting out the conditions for claims
by joint-claim couples.
278. New section 3A(1)(e)(ii) enables circumstances
to be prescribed in which a joint-claim couple may claim Jobseeker's
Allowance if one member of the couple is aged 18 or over and the
other member is aged 16 or 17. It is intended to prescribe the
same circumstances as currently apply to a 16 or 17 year old claiming
Jobseeker's Allowance, which are set out in regulation 58 of the
Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996.
279. Paragraph 7 introduces new subsection
(1A) into section 8 of the Jobseekers Act 1995. New subsection
(1A) mirrors existing section 8(1) of the Jobseekers Act 1995
and adapts it for the purposes of joint-claims. Section 8(1) provides
for regulations to be made to specify the arrangements for a claimant's
attendance at a jobcentre; for requiring a claimant to provide
information about and evidence of his circumstances, his availability
for employment and the extent to which he has been seeking employment.
Section 8 (1A) (a) enables regulations to be made which require
joint-claim couples to attend interviews either separately or
jointly; in practice, it is intended to allow claimants to choose
whether they wish to attend together or not. The intended regulations
will mirror the attendance requirements set out in regulation
23 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations 1996. The pattern
of interviews will be the same as currently for Jobseeker's Allowance
claimants. It is intended that regulations described in sections
8 (1A) (b), (c) and (d) will ensure that the same requirement
that is currently placed on Jobseeker's Allowance claimants to
provide information as to their circumstances, their availability
for employment and the extent to which they have been looking
for work, can be placed on each member of a joint-claim couple.
It is intended to mirror regulation 24 of the Jobseeker's Allowance
280. Sub-paragraph (7) substitutes a new paragraph
(c) into section 8(2) of the Jobseekers Act, adapting it for joint-claims.
Regulations made under existing section 8(2)(c) may provide that
entitlement is not to cease where a claimant, within a prescribed
period (ie before the end of the 5th working day after the day
on which he failed to comply), shows that he had good cause for
failing to comply with a requirement to attend a jobcentre or
to provide information about his circumstances, his availability
or the extent to which he has been looking for work. It is intended
to provide in regulations good cause provisions for joint-claim
couples which mirror those in regulation 27 of the Jobseeker's
Allowance Regulations 1996.
281. Paragraph 9 amends section 13 of the
Jobseekers Act, which sets out rules concerning the treatment
of income and capital in a claim for income-based Jobseeker's
Allowance. The amendments adapt section 13 for the purpose of
joint claims, introducing new subsections (2A) and (2B).
282. New subsection (2A) contains two powers, which
mirror those already contained in existing section 13(1). It provides
that a joint-claim couple will not be entitled to joint-claim
Jobseeker's Allowance if the capital of either member of the couple
exceeds the limit prescribed in regulations. This capital limit
of £8,000 (£16,000 for those in residential care) is
currently prescribed in regulation 107 of the Jobseeker's Allowance
Regulations and will be the same for joint-claim couples. It also
contains a power to prescribe that part of the couple's capital
should be disregarded. Regulation 108 and Schedule 8 of the Jobseeker's
Allowance Regulations 1996 currently set out capital to be disregarded
and the intention is to extend this to joint-claim couples.
283. New subsection (2B), like existing section 13(2),
contains a general rule that the income and capital of members
of a family are to be treated as belonging to the joint-claim
couple unless prescribed otherwise in regulations. The Government's
intention is that the disregards which apply to the income and
capital of current Jobseeker's Allowance claimants and their partners
will also apply to a joint-claim couple.
284. Paragraph 10 inserts a new section 15A
to the Jobseekers Act 1995 which, with existing sections 14 and
15, will adapt the current situation with respect to trade disputes
to joint-claim couples. Currently a person involved in a trade
dispute is not entitled to either contribution-based or income-based
Jobseeker's Allowance. However, the partner of the person involved
in the trade dispute may make a claim for income-based Jobseeker's
Allowance for herself and her dependants, but no part of the allowance
is payable for the person involved in the trade dispute. New section
15A(4) contains a power to prescribe circumstances in which section
15(2) is not to apply for the purposes of calculating a claimant's
entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance. This mirrors the existing
power in section 15(1) which applies to single claimants, and
it is intended that the same circumstances as are prescribed in
regulation 171 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations would
apply. These include cases where the claimant is a child or young
person, is incapable of work or within the maternity period.
285. Paragraph 11 inserts new section 17(1A)
which provides a power for the amount of income-based Jobseeker's
Allowance payable to a joint-claim couple to be reduced where
a member of the couple is a young person aged 16-17 years old
and incurs a sanction. This new section mirrors the existing provisions
in section 17(1). Regulation 63 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations
sets out the provisions for reducing payments in respect of a
16/17 year old who incurs a sanction and it is intended that similar
provisions will apply to a 16/17 year old member of a joint-claim
286. Paragraph 13 inserts new sections 20A
and 20B into the Jobseekers Act 1995. Section 20A deals with circumstances
in which Jobseeker's Allowance is not payable. Section 20B is
concerned with exemptions from the sanctions set out in new section
20A. In effect, these new sections adapt the provisions of the
existing sections 19 and 20 of the Jobseekers Act 1995 to apply
them to joint claims.
287. Section 20A(3) mirrors existing section 19(2).
It applies to a member of a joint-claim couple who has, for example,
failed to attend an employment programme or training scheme or
has lost a place on such a scheme through misconduct. It contains
a power to prescribe the length of the period for which the member
of the joint-claim couple is to be subject to sanction and the
starting point for the sanction period to begin. It is intended
that the power will be used to prescribe the periods currently
set out in regulation 69 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations,
namely two weeks for a "first offence" and four weeks
for a subsequent sanction. Sanctions will not be cumulative as
between the joint-claim couple. For example, a four week sanction
will only apply where one member has committed both offences,
rather than one each.
288. Section 20A(8) re-enacts existing section 19(4)
in relation to joint-claim couples. It provides a power to prescribe
the circumstances an adjudication officer may or may not take
into account when deciding a period for which a member of a joint-claim
couple may be subject to sanction when he has, for example, voluntarily
left employment without good cause or failed to apply for employment
notified to him. It is intended that the power will be used to
prescribe the circumstances currently set out in regulation 70
of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations, which include the likely
length of employment, the rates of pay and hours of work, and
any mitigating circumstances.
289. Where both partners in a joint-claim couple
breach Jobseeker's Allowance rules no allowance will be paid to
them for the period during which both are subject to sanctions.
However, where only one member of the couple is subject to sanction,
section 20A(5)(b) contains a power which provides for a reduced
payment to be made for the period of the sanction. It is intended
that the power will be used to provide in regulations for an amount
of Jobseeker's Allowance to be paid equivalent to that which would
be payable if one member of the couple claimed Jobseeker's Allowance
on his/her own behalf, provided he continued to meet Jobseeker's
Allowance entitlement conditions. This will be an amount of income-based
Jobseeker's Allowance equivalent to the rate of contribution-based
Jobseeker's Allowance if the claimant meets the Jobseeker's Allowance
contribution conditions. If he does not meet the Jobseeker's Allowance
contribution conditions, he will be paid an amount equivalent
to the amount of income-based Jobseeker's Allowance that he would
receive were he to make a claim for income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
on behalf of himself only, taking into account the couple's income
and capital in determining the amount. This ensures that the "innocent"
member of the joint-claim couple is not unfairly penalised for
the actions of his or her partner.
290. Section 20B (3) mirrors existing section 20(3).
It contains a requirement to make regulations which allow either
member of a joint-claim couple to accept employment and subsequently
leave it during a trial period, without incurring a sanction for
leaving employment voluntarily without just cause. Regulation
74 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations currently defines
persons who can take advantage of this rule as claimants who have
been unemployed for 13 weeks. It is intended that the same rule
will apply to joint-claim couples. This subsection is associated
with the power in 20B(7) to prescribe a trial period.
291. Section 20B (4) contains a power to prescribe
the circumstances in which a joint-claim couple can receive an
income-based Jobseeker's Allowance even though section 20A (which
covers sanctions) prevents payment of Jobseeker's Allowance. It
is similar to existing section 20(4) of the Jobseekers Act 1995.
The provision in section 20(4) is currently used to provide in
regulations for payments to be made to claimants if they can show
that they or a member of their family would otherwise suffer hardship
during the period of a sanction. It is intended to use the regulation-making
power in section 20B(4) for the same purpose.
292. Section 20B(5) is equivalent to the provisions
of section 20(5) of the Jobseekers Act 1995. It contains a power
to make payment of Jobseeker's Allowance under subsection (4),
during the period of a sanction, dependent on the claimant providing
prescribed information. Regulation 144 of the Jobseeker's Allowance
Regulations simply requires that a claimant should provide the
Secretary of State with information about the circumstances of
the person in hardship. It is intended that this will be extended
to joint-claim couples.
293. Section 20B(7) contains a power for regulations
to specify the meaning of a "trial period". It is associated
with subsection (3) which allows either member of a joint-claim
couple to accept employment and subsequently leave it during a
trial period, without incurring a sanction for leaving employment
voluntarily without just cause. Regulation 74(4) of the Jobseeker's
Allowance Regulations 1996 currently prescribes the trial period
as the period between the start of the fifth week and the end
of the twelfth week of a claimant's employment. It is intended
that the same period will be prescribed for joint-claim couples.
294. Section 20B(8) mirrors the provisions of section
20(8) of the Jobseeker's Act 1995. The power enables regulations
to specify the day on which a person's employment is to be regarded
as commencing for the purposes of the trial period. Regulation
74(4) of the Jobseeker's Regulations provide that part-time work
of less than 16 hours per week should not be counted as part of
the trial period. Again, it is intended that this rule will also
apply to joint-claim couples.
295. Paragraph 16(2) inserts new paragraph
8A into Schedule 1 to the Jobseekers Act 1995. This new paragraph
mirrors the provisions of existing paragraph 8 which enables a
person to be entitled to Jobseeker's Allowance without having
to satisfy all the Jobseeker's Allowance entitlement conditions.
The intention is to use the power in new paragraph 8A(1) to prescribe
in regulations the circumstances in which entitlement to joint-claim
Jobseeker's Allowance would arise even though one member of the
couple may not be able to meet all of the conditions. Examples
would include: persons caring for another person; persons incapable
of work; disabled workers; blind persons; pregnant women 11 weeks
before confinement; persons studying full-time under certain circumstances;
persons aged 60 or over; persons required to attend court; and
persons in custody for trial or sentencing.
296. New paragraph 8A(2) provides for regulations
to prescribe circumstances in which a couple is entitled to income-based
Jobseeker's Allowance without having made a joint-claim for it.
The power will be used to cover couples where a member is already
in receipt of income-based Jobseeker's Allowance when Schedule
7 comes into force. The intention is that regulations will provide
for the couple to be treated as meeting the Jobseeker's Allowance
conditions of entitlement until the new claimant member of the
couple is required to attend and provide information in connection
with the joint claim.
297. Paragraph 16(4) inserts new paragraphs
9A, 9B, 9C and 9D into Schedule 1 to the Jobseekers Act 1995.
These paragraphs contain powers to prescribe circumstances in
which an award of joint-claim Jobseeker's Allowance:
- should be treated as continuous with an award
of income-based Jobseeker's Allowance or contribution-based Jobseeker's
- should lapse; and
- may be revived without the need for the claimants
to make a new claim.
298. These powers cater for Jobseeker's Allowance
claimants who have a change of circumstance, which means they
either cease to be a joint-claim couple or become a joint-claim
couple. The underlying aim is to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy,
and ensure that joint-claim couples are treated in the same way
as other Jobseeker's Allowance claimants, whilst at the same time
requiring a fresh claim where this is necessary.
299. Paragraph 9A contains a power for regulations
to make provision for persons who cease to be members of a joint-claim
couple. This includes a power to prescribe when an award of joint-claim
Jobseeker's Allowance and an award of income-based or contribution-based
Jobseeker's Allowance should be treated as one continuous award.
It is intended to use this, for example, where a joint-claim couple
has a baby so the family are no longer required to make a joint-claim.
They can move to a single claim for Jobseeker's Allowance. Regulations
would provide that they were not required to make a new claim
in these circumstances. Conversely, paragraph 9A also contains
a power to prescribe the circumstances in which an award of joint-claim
Jobseeker's Allowance should lapse. An example, is where a joint-claim
couple separate and perhaps find new partners. In these circumstances
it would be necessary to require the people concerned to complete
new claim forms to provide full details of their new circumstances.
300. Paragraph 9B contains a power for regulations
to make provision for persons who cease to be members of a joint-claim
couple and then become members of a joint-claim couple again.
It is intended that regulations will provide that where there
is a short break in an award of joint claim Jobseeker's Allowance
(for example, where a couple separate and get back together again
within a short period) and the circumstances of the joint-claim
couple have not changed, then the original claim may be revived.
301. Paragraph 9C contains a power for regulations
to make provision for persons who become members of a joint-claim
couple. It is intended to use this power, for example, in the
tragic circumstances where a young couple receiving Jobseeker's
Allowance lose a child. In such circumstances the Department would
want to take account of the change of circumstances, but also
give them a period of grace before they would be required to meet
302. Paragraph 9D(1)(a) contains a power for regulations
to prescribe the manner of calculating a new or replacement award
of Jobseeker's Allowance under paragraphs 9A to 9C. For example,
account would need to be taken of any change of circumstance which
altered the rate of benefit whilst, at the same time, treating
an award as continuous.
303. Paragraph 9D(1)(b) ensures that provisions in
regulations may require claimants to provide information or evidence.
For example, joint-claim couples who have a baby may be required
to provide evidence of the child's birth.
304. Paragraph 16(5) substitutes a new paragraph
10(1) of Schedule 1 to the Jobseekers Act 1995. This new sub-paragraph
mirrors the effects of the existing sub-paragraph 10(1) but also
adapts it to the case of joint-claims. Broadly, in cases where
a decision on entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance is pending
or payment has been suspended, paragraph 10 nevertheless permits
entitlement to, and payment of, income-based Jobseeker's to prevent
hardship to claimants or their families. Sub-paragraph (1) re-enacts
the power in existing sub-paragraph (1) which enables regulations
to provide for the circumstances in which a claimant is treated
as being entitled to an income-based Jobseeker's Allowance when
entitlement to Jobseeker's Allowance has yet to be established.
For example, where there is a delay in deciding a claim for Jobseeker's
Allowance because it is not clear whether the claimant satisfies
the Jobseeker's Allowance labour market conditions (availability
for work, signing a Jobseeker's Agreement and actively seeking
work) regulation 141 of the Jobseeker's Allowance Regulations
1996 allows payment of Jobseeker's Allowance to a person in hardship,
until the claim is decided. The same provisions will be extended
to joint-claim couples.