House of Lords – Welfare Reform Bill committee stage: day two – 6th October 2011

Welfare Reform Bill committee stage: day two – 07 October 2011

The House of Lords debated the Welfare Reform Bill, which had its second day in Grand Committee – line by line examination – on Thursday 6 October.

Members of the Lords continued to discuss Part 1 of the Bill setting out the framework for introducing ‘universal credit’, the new benefit that will replace a range of existing means-tested benefits and tax credits.

Amendments 2, 3, 6, 12, 16, 17 and 21 were discussed concerning the amounts towards costs universal credit may cover, the provisions about claims for universal credit, entitlement to universal credit, and the conditions for a person to qualify to receive universal credit.

Committee stage continues on 10 October when further amendments will be discussed. 

Day one

Members of the Lords discussed amendment 1 to Clause 1, moved by Lord Kirkwood of Kirkhope, to insert the term ‘working age entitlement’ in place of ‘universal credit.’

Further information

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; and 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, including determining 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; determining the appropriate maximum housing benefit; and 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.

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.

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