In view of the considerable interest in the Personal Independence Payment (Amendment) Regulations 2017, and specifically the role of the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) in the scrutiny of those proposals, I wanted to provide some clarity of the position insofar as it concerns SSAC.
As a courtesy, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions contacted me last week to inform the committee that he intended to lay these regulations on 23 February 2017. His judgement was that the urgency of the matter meant it would be inexpedient to refer the legislation to the committee before doing so. The Social Security Administration Act 1992 enables the Secretary of State to make such a judgement.
That same legislation makes clear that when the ‘urgency’ procedure is invoked, the regulations will be subject to the usual SSAC scrutiny process as soon as practicable after they have been made.
Accordingly, the Department for Work and Pensions will present the regulations to the committee for scrutiny at its next meeting on 8 March 2017. We will consider at that meeting whether or not we wish to take the regulations on formal reference or to comment further. The outcome of that meeting will be published on our website in the usual way.
Finally I wanted to place on record that, as I have been appointed to lead the second independent review of the Personal Independence Payment, I shall take no part in the scrutiny of these regulations to avoid any potential – or perceived – conflict of interest. As with all items of committee business, other members will consider whether similar conflicts arise for them.
I hope this clarification is helpful. The committee will not be commenting further until such time as it has completed its scrutiny of the regulations.