This Commons Library Briefing Paper summarises debate and amendments to the Bill during its committee stage in the House of Commons.Jump to full report >>
Full background and comment on the Bill’s provisions can be found in the House of Commons Library paper: Welfare Reform and Work Bill [Bill 51 of 2015-16].
Reports: clauses 1-3 were debated in the Committee’s fourth sitting on 15 September 2015. These clauses require the Secretary of State to report on progress towards full employment, towards the Government’s target of 3 million apprenticeship starts and progress on the troubled families programme. The clauses were not amended in Committee. Opposition amendments to clause 1 (which concerns reporting on progress towards full employment) were defeated on division.
Life chances: clauses 4-6, which remove most of the duties and provisions set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and require the Secretary of State to report annually on new ‘life chances’ indicators, were debated in the Committee’s fifth sitting on 17 September 2015. Aside from some technical Government amendments, the clauses were not amended in Committee. Opposition amendments, to retain the measures and targets in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and to include data on children living in low-income working households among the life chances indicator, were rejected on division.
Benefit Cap: clauses 7 and 8 were debated in the Committee’s sixth sitting on 17 September 2015. These clauses provide for regulations to be made to determine the level of the Benefit Cap and for a review of the threshold to be carried out at least once during a Parliament. Technical Government amendments were made to clause 7. Several Opposition amendments to both clauses were pressed to a vote but none were successful.
Four year benefit freeze: Clauses 9 and 10 and the linked Schedule were considered at the Committee’s sixth sitting on 17 September 2015. They provide for a freeze in most working-age benefits and tax credits at 2015-16 rates for four years. Labour and SNP amendments were considered but no amendments were agreed.
Tax credits and Universal Credit: clauses 11 and 12 – which provide for the per child element in tax credits and Universal Credit to be limited to two children for new claims and births after April 2017, and for abolition of the family element in tax credits and UC to be abolished for new claims after this date. – were considered at the Committee’s seventh sitting. Labour and SNP amendments were considered but no amendments were agreed.
Abolition of the ESA Work-Related Activity Component: Clause 13, which abolishes the “Work-Related Activity Component” for new ESA claims from April 2017, and clause 14 , which makes corresponding changes to Universal Credit, were considered at the Committee’s eighth sitting on 13 October 2015. Labour and SNP amendments were considered but no amendments were agreed.
Conditionality for ‘responsible carers’ in Universal Credit: Clause 15 makes changes to the work preparation and work-related requirements for lone parents and other “responsible carers” in receipt of Universal Credit, who have younger children. The clause was considered at the Committee’s eighth sitting. Labour and SNP amendments were considered but no amendments were agreed.
Loans for mortgage interest: a series of Government amendments were agreed at the Committee’s eighth and ninth sittings which, among other things, replaced references to loans with references to “owner-occupier payments,” allow payments to be made for “non-traditional” and to claimants with “non-standard” financing arrangements; and make transitional arrangements. Labour amendments were considered but none were agreed.
Social housing rent reductions: the clauses to require social landlords to reduce their rents by 1% every year for four years were discussed during the Committee’s tenth sitting. A substantial number of Government amendments were made to these provisions, including the addition of four new clauses and a new schedule. No Opposition amendments were pressed to a vote.
Commons Briefing papers CBP-7352
Authors: Steven Kennedy; Wendy Wilson; Feargal McGuinness; Mark Sandford; Robert Long