House of Lords amendments; Commons Sitting 31.10.2012

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  • #43850
    LouP
    Participant
    #124573
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    “This is a ham-fisted set of proposals, cooked up by the Government in a way that shows a complete lack of joined-up thinking between Departments—the Department for Communities and Local Government is going in a completely different way from the Department for Work and Pensions—and then imposed to a chaotic timetable”.

    Naturally, no-one here on hbinfo could possibly comment on this!

    #124574
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    “It is all down to local councils to decide, but one of the complications is that the Government are localising council tax benefit, but centralising housing benefit. Local councils can get no sensible decisions from the Department for Work and Pensions on whether an arrangement will be allowed whereby applicants can go to one point for information and advice about both benefits. Are the Government to sort out this problem between the two Departments?”

    #124575
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    So all the Lords amendments were agreed and not resisted by the Government:

    Lords amendment 3 requires the Secretary of State to provide for a review of council tax reduction schemes within three years of the Act coming into effect and sets out certain considerations for that review. As Baroness Hanham made clear in the House of Lords, Government routinely review policy and respond to ensure our objectives are met. The transitional grant scheme announced on 16 October was a direct response to those authorities that are proposing schemes that place what the Government consider to be an unacceptable burden on the very poorest. That is why we will accept that amendment, but we will not seek to overturn it.

    Lords amendments 83, 84 and 86 would enable regulations made by the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers about council tax reduction schemes of billing authorities in England or Wales to make provision equivalent to the provisions of, or the provisions that could be made under, sections 32 to 34 of the Welfare Reform Act 2007. The amendments would also give billing authorities in England power to make additional provision in their local scheme which replicates, or could be made under, those sections. The amendments would allow local authority schemes to provide for extended payments, which are an important way of supporting work incentives.

    Lords amendment 85 is a technical amendment. It is intended to ensure that the power in new paragraph 6 of schedule 1A to the Local Government Finance Act 1992, which allows major precepting and billing authorities to reach an agreement to vary payments or instalments that are required to be made under regulations about funds, applies—as was intended—only to regulations in relation to council tax.

    Lords amendments 87 to 90 would ensure that the expertise of members of the First-tier Tribunal could be used in the deciding of appeals against decisions made in relation to council tax reduction schemes. The amendment would enable First-tier Tribunal members to sit as members of the Valuation Tribunal for England at the request of the president of the tribunal, with the approval of the Senior President of Tribunals, and only in relation to appeals that relate in whole or in part to council tax reduction schemes.

    #124576
    Jon__Blackwell
    Participant

    We listened to parts of the debate in the office yesterday afternoon – eventually I had to turn it off due to rocketing blood-pressures and not enough work getting done.

    Helen Jones did a reasonable job, I thought, of rehearsing ethical, administrative, micro and macro-economic arguments against this measure.

    The best that a smirking Bob Neill could come up in response with was (to paraphrase) “We need cuts; this is a cut; therefore this is good.”

    Royal assent has now been given: here’s the Act…

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/17/contents/enacted

    #124617
    LouP
    Participant

    “How do we deal with the fraud that, I regret to say, is an issue with some benefits? The vast majority of benefit claimants act honestly and properly, but significant sums are, I am sorry to say, lost to fraud. That is far better dealt with locally, because local council officials and members have better local knowledge and are better linked to the various enforcement agencies. Significant savings for the honest and genuine claimant can be made through the better running of the scheme and by dealing with issues such as fraud, but those things are better dealt with locally.”

    Why UC then?!

    #124639
    guy
    Participant

    Do you think the amended default scheme will follow shortly? I note that this will still have the current rates of applicable amounts, non dependant deductions and gross income bands etc. There will then be a further amendment once the Government has decided whether they will uprate by CPI minus 1% as hinted. :((

    #124640
    chris harvey
    Participant

    From Peter’s other post, it looks like the DCLG will not be offering a refresh of the draft regs now. We will have to wait until the end of the month for the actual regs.

    #124641
    guy
    Participant

    This country! (Alan Partridge) J)

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