The committee reviewed the above draft regulations at its meeting on 8 July. As part of our consideration of them, we have decided to consult on the regulations and would welcome views from a broad range of organisations and individuals.
The draft regulations determine that:
- for lone parents with young children and for nominated responsible carers, the age at which employment support advisers have the power to require them to undertake mandatory work-related activity would now include those with a youngest child aged 3 or 4
- the list of circumstances that can be included as consideration of good cause for failure to participate in an interview should be removed from Income Support regulations
The draft regulations also determine that, for lone parents that are awarded Income Support solely on the basis of being a lone parent:
- the frequency, timing and duration of Income Support work-focused interviews, for those with a youngest child aged 1-4, should no longer be at fixed points
- Employment support advisers would have discretion to operate more flexible arrangements including undertaking work-focused interviews, where deemed necessary, at more regular intervals
- the provision to waive a work-focused interview within Income Support regulations until the next scheduled review date would be removed
The committee is particularly keen to hear from those who have views and evidence relating to the following issues:
- the impact of changes previously introduced regarding eligibility to Income Support on lone parent households where the youngest child is aged between 5 and 10 – for example, what impact has the increase in work-related requirements for these households had in terms of enhancing employability
- the potential impact of the proposed mandation of work related activity for those households with a youngest child aged 3 or 4
- whether the removal from the Income Support legislation of the list of ‘good causes’ for failing to attend a work-focused interview is likely to have an impact, for example in terms of interpretation and consistent application
- the potential implications of the proposals – for the Department for Work and Pensions, The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the devolved administrations, and other organisations – in terms of costs, administration and their other priorities (for example the arrangements under Universal Credit to make 16 to 17 year olds subject to work related requirements and the power to mandate basic skills training for England but not where it would be funded by Scotland and Wales)
- the implications for childcare provision for both lone parents and different types of childcare provider – for example, what are the potential implications of having to arrange or provide childcare for young children (aged 3 or 4) while lone parents participate in more frequent work-focused interviews or undertake mandatory work-related activity
Read the draft Regulations, Explanatory Memorandum and Equality Analysis.
Responses are needed by 13 September 2013 and should be sent to:
The Committee Secretary
Social Security Advisory Committee
Alternatively they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be obtained from the Committee Secretary on 020 7829 3354.
Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is an independent advisory body of the Department for Work and Pensions. The Committee’s role is to give advice on social security issues; scrutinise and report on social security regulations (including tax credits) and to consider and advise on any matters referred to it by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions or the Northern Ireland Department for Social Development.
The Committee’s Chair is Paul Gray. Its membership comprises: Les Allamby, John Andrews, Simon Bartley, Adele Baumgardt, John Ditch, Keith Faulkner, Pamela Fitzpatrick, Colin Godbold, Chris Goulden, Matthew Oakley, Nicola Smith and Diana Whitworth.
SSAC’s response to regulatory proposals is made in a report to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Secretary of State is required to make a written statement in response to the report. SSAC’s report and the Secretary of State’s statement are normally laid in Parliament alongside the regulations (section 174(1) and (2) of the Social Security Administration Act 1992 refer).
For legacy benefits proposed change applies to lone parents with a youngest child aged 3 or 4 that are in receipt of Income Support solely on the basis of being a lone parent or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are in the work-related activity group. The change would extend to lone parents and to nominated responsible carers in receipt of Universal Credit and new-style Employment and Support Allowance.
Mandatory work-related activity – known as ‘work preparation’ within Universal Credit and new style ESA (C).