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Latest update on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 04/03/2016

The Welfare Reform and Work Bill is currently in "ping pong" between the Commons and Lords in pursuit of a version on which both Houses can agree. 


The Bill completed its passage through the House of Lords and received its Third Reading on 9 February. The Lords made a number of amendments to the Bill which were considered by the House of Commons on 23 February. The House of Commons rejected some of the Lords' amendments and in some cases proposed further amendments in their place. The House of Lords considered this response on 29 February, and decided on further amendments in place of some of those proposed by the House of Commons. 


Consideration of the Lord's further amendments to the Bill took place in the House of Commons on 2 March but the Commons disagreed with the Lords in their amendments.  The Bill will now return to the Lords for debate on a date to be determined.


The Clauses of the Bill now in dispute are Clause 13 (Employment & Support Allowance: work related activity component (and Clause 14 (Universal Credit: limited capability for work element). Essentially the Lords are seeking to amend the Bill to require the Secretary of State to lay a report before Parliament giving his or her estimate of the impact of the provisions on the physical & mental health, financial situation, and ability to return to work of persons who would otherwise be entitled to start claiming the work related activity component of employment and support allowance.


In regard to proposals in the Bill for reductions in social housing rents, at Report Stage in the House of Lords, the government brought forward an amendment to Clause 28 of the Bill intended to exclude service charges from the scope of the 1% rent reductions. It was subsequently pointed out by some housing associations and the HCA that the amendment would have failed to exempt service charges which are treated as part of the rent by some landlords for the purpose of enforcement in cases of non-payment. The House of Commons therefore rejected the amendment to Clause 28 and substituted another which delegates the drafting of a satisfactory exemption to the Secretary of State through regulations.  This amendment was accepted by the House of Lords.

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