Welfare Reform bill

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  • #40037
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    well it looks like a valiant attempt was made to put CT support into Universal Credit.

    Amendment 5 at around 7PM

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/text/111212-0002.htm#11121219000617

    and how about this:

    Lord Freud referring to the bill localising CT support – “I can probably say that it will be between January and May or June, or something like that” !!!!!!!!

    That just simply isn’t acceptable.

    Full text of his response to the amendment below.

    Lord Freud: Beware Greeks. My Lords, noble Lords will be aware from previous debates that we are proposing to abolish council tax benefit before the introduction of universal credit and replace it with local schemes of support. Localising support for council tax is part of a wider policy of decentralisation, which will give councils increased financial autonomy and a greater stake in the economic future of their local area. Localisation also reintroduces the link between council tax levels and the costs of providing support, thus reinforcing local financial accountability.

    This reform will give local authorities a significant degree of control over how a 10 per cent reduction in expenditure on the current council tax benefit bill is achieved, enabling them to balance local priorities and their own financial circumstances as they see fit. This saving is an important contribution to the Government’s vital programme of deficit reduction. We need to ensure that localisation supports the improved work incentives that universal credit will bring. However, the Government believe that the key principles required to incentivise work can be delivered through local schemes with the help of technical guidance provided by central government. Local authorities will have a greater stake in getting people back into work than ever before.

    7.30 pm
    The Department for Communities and Local Government has consulted on the proposal for local schemes in England. The consultation closed on 14 October. There were a very high number of responses, demonstrating an appetite among local authorities and other stakeholders to come up with practical solutions to the outstanding issues. The Government will publish a formal response shortly and plan to introduce legislation this Session through a local government Finance Bill.

    The time has passed for the inclusion of council tax benefit within universal credit. The universal credit programme is now too advanced for such a change to

    12 Dec 2011 : Column 1068

    be made for the launch of universal credit without endangering the timetable. However, the Government understand the importance of allowing local authorities to run schemes that are simple to administer. We are considering how data flows from universal credit and pension credit will support this aim and help to ensure that people can easily claim local council tax support alongside DWP benefits.

    I shall turn to the specific questions raised by my noble friend Lord German, which were reinforced by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, about the move of council tax benefit to both English local authorities and the devolved Administrations. CTB is not being devolved. Under Clause 33, it will be abolished and funding made available for local schemes in England. The devolved Administrations will be funded through the Barnett formula to bring forward new schemes within their existing competence. If a future Government so decided, Clause 11, which covers housing costs, is sufficiently broad to give legislative cover to include support for council tax costs in universal credit.

    Scotland and Wales already have the executive powers to establish schemes based on applying discounts to council tax. I can assure my noble friend that social security remains absolutely reserved as a UK matter and that localisation funding does not affect this. I thank the noble Baroness for raising these issues.

    Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord would reiterate a point. I thought I heard him say that a Bill for the localisation of council tax benefits or whatever it is called will be introduced in this Session. Does he have any more precise detail?

    Lord Freud: I am afraid that I do not have any more precise detail but, although I do not think that in the consideration of the Welfare Reform Bill I can say soon, I can probably say that it will be between January and May or June, or something like that. I have no more precise information.

    #114284
    Anonymous
    Guest

    And that will be a Bill, which will be subject to normal Parliamentary procedure (although I gather passage through the Lords can be expedited in the case of a “money bill” which this may well be). So a system that is scheduled to go “live” in April 2013 will be subject to parameters that are not going to be on the statute book until probably next summer or even autumn.

    I have said it before: excluding CTB from UC seems to have been adopted as a dogmatic stance by DCLG at an early stage without really understanding why they felt so strongly about it – all the arguments seem to have been developed retrospectively to justify a pre-existing position, for the simple reason that anything is preferable to being seen to back down. And DWP of course will keep schtum and go along with the dogmatic line, partly to give a show of joined up government and policy unity, and partly because they know that DCLG will be the ones who look stupid when it all goes wrong.

    There is one very good argument for having a local rebate scheme: the practicality of collection. But you could say exactly the same thing about LA rents.

    #114286
    Julian Hobson
    Participant

    Why does Lord Freud say this, totally unnecessary unless government need a back up plan:

    “If a future Government so decided, Clause 11, which covers housing costs, is sufficiently broad to give legislative cover to include support for council tax costs in universal credit.”

    The following bit beggars belief and I simply don’t believe it ! If it’s too late to include in UC now, how the hell do they think LA’s will have time to introduce a whole new scheme in time for April 2013. It is simply unacceptable to say that it is too late for government to do anything that would bring it within UC for Oct 13 and yet expect LA’s to have their individual acts together for april 2013 when we won’t be able to start until the bill becomes an Act at the earliest.

    “The time has passed for the inclusion of council tax benefit within universal credit. The universal credit programme is now too advanced for such a change to be made for the launch of universal credit without endangering the timetable.”

    #114319
    RobBox
    Participant

    Totally Barking……….. :bigsmile:

    #114318
    Lee Fearon
    Participant

    You couldn’t make more of a dogs dinner with a tin of Chum and bag of Winalot.

    #114335
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    DCLG are speaking at the hbinfo conference in January 2012 – I think there might be a few questions!

    #114340
    Rob Hawes1
    Participant

    Peter, would you like to speculate on how many answers there might be?!

    #114343
    Anonymous
    Guest

    There will be answers, but necessarily relating to the questions asked.

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