Welfare Reform Bill Grand Committee: day 15

21 November 2011

Grand Committee – line by line examination – of the Welfare Reform Bill continues in the House of Lords this afternoon (Monday 21 November).

Debate will again focus on the new benefit personal independence payment (PIP), which will replace the disability living allowance (DLA) from 2013, including clause 87 which abolishes DLA. Discussion is expected to include proposals to require the Secretary of State to review the operation of PIPs every two years after their introduction.

Debate may also begin on proposals for changes to the clauses setting a cap on welfare benefits to limit the maximum amount that can be claimed to no more than the average wage.

About the Bill

The Welfare Reform Bill makes provision for a wide range of reforms to simplify the welfare system, including the introduction of a new, single, streamlined benefit – which will be known as 'universal credit' – to replace benefits for people of working age, including jobseeker’s allowance, income support, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit. The Bill also provides for the introduction of a new benefit – the 'personal independence payment' – to replace the existing disability living allowance.

The Bill follows the November 2010 White Paper, 'Universal Credit: welfare that works', which sets out the Coalition Government’s proposals for reforming welfare to improve work incentives, simplify the benefits system and tackle administrative complexity.

More than 50 Members of the Lords took part in the second reading debate on the Bill on 13 September, including Members with firsthand experience of the benefits system. A petition on housing was presented before the debate.

Committee reports

A report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, published in July, recommends a greater level of parliamentary scrutiny of some of the powers granted to the Secretary of State under the Bill. These include:

  • powers to determine entitlement to and the award of universal credit
  • the imposition of obligations on claimants and their ability to comply with a work availability requirement and hardship payments
  • powers to determine the appropriate maximum housing benefit
  • the mechanisms for setting a ‘benefit cap’.

The report recommends that the powers it draws attention to should be subject to affirmative procedures – a vote of approval – to come into effect.

Further information

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the Bill takes place during committee stage.

The Grand Committee on the Welfare Reform Bill is taking place in Committee Room 4A. Members of the public can attend House of Lords debates.

Image: iStockphoto

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