Just come across this, never heard of it before but I believe it's currently being rushed through the commons. Here's a breakdown of some of the
bill changes, not to sure if it affects anyone here but it seems to include some ID collection items.
Abolition of Income Support
The Bill allows for the abolition of income support, and provides that any groups that remain on Income Support can be required to attend work focused
interviews, and undertake work related activity or be subject to a sanction.
People claiming benefits will be compelled to follow the directions from an employment advisor or face sanctions on their benefits.
Work for your Benefit
‘Work for your benefit’ is workfare. It is enforced labour at a rate of as little as £1.73 per hour (combining current JSA rates with a 35 hour
week). The Bill proposes piloting of workfare and would allow for a national rollout without further primary legislation. But DWP research already
• there is little evidence that workfare increases the likelihood of finding work;
• it is least effective in getting people into jobs in weak labour markets where unemployment is high;
• it is least effective for individuals with multiple barriers to work;
• it can reduce employment chances by limiting the time available for job search and by failing to provide the skills and experience valued by
Work related activity
The bill will allow the Jobcentre Plus, and private contractors, to issue mandatory directions to lone parents and sick and disabled claimants that
they must undertake a specific activity, or face a sanction on their benefits.
Increased conditionality for couples
The Bill makes two changes for couples claiming benefit. Firstly, it removes the right of a sick or disabled person to claim Employment and Support
Allowance (ESA) for the couple where their partner could instead claim JSA. Secondly, the Bill requires partners of claimants of IS, ESA and JSA to
undertake work related activity or be subject to a sanction, meaning that partners cannot choose not to work.
Changes in contribution conditions for JSA and ESA
The Bill proposes a significant restriction on eligibility for contributory JSA and ESA. Those in work will find that they have to work for longer to
pay the contributions required to qualify for benefit. This will reduce the number of claimants who qualify for contributory ESA and JSA, and will
force many more claimants on to means tested benefits, which are complex and suffer from low take-up. Others will have no entitlement at all to means
Carers Allowance and Maternity Allowance
The Bill abolishes the dependent additions paid with carers allowance and maternity allowance. Both benefits are non-means tested and are paid to some
of the poorest people in the country. Its removal will lead to an increase in reliance on means tested benefits, or for those who fail the means test,
having to live on a lower level of income.
Benefit penalties for ‘offenders’
The Bill proposes that claimants who have been convicted, cautioned or fined of any offence of fraud will have their benefit suspended for four weeks.
The proposal will catch people who are overpaid benefit due to a DWP mistake or error or misunderstanding on their part, but who but lack the skills
and confidence to seek advice and challenge poor decisions made by the DWP. Benefit fraud is now a smaller problem than error, and is also smaller
than that of non-take up, yet the Bill has nothing to say about how those missing out on their entitlements can be helped to claim. In addition,
continuing to issue high profile ‘tough’ messages stigmatises the claimant population by instilling a wrongful stereotype that claimant fraud is
Training and skills of employment advisors
The Bill gives employment advisors greater responsibility in supporting people to look for work and in imposing sanctions on people who do not follow
their directions. Advisors are currently insufficiently trained on working with people who need more support to look for work, including people with
mental health issues and people with disabilities, yet the Bill does not propose to increase the training for employment advisors. The payments by
results culture in this bill means that it is more likely that the employment support offered to people will be generalist, meaning people who have
support needs, who it will be more expensive to support into work, will not receive appropriate help and will risk having their benefits cut under the
new sanctions. There is nothing contained in the bill about how claimants will be protected from the unfair application of sanctions.
Mandatory drug testing
The Welfare Reform Bill introduces the power for mandatory drug testing for benefits claimants. The penalty for not complying with the test, or with a
resulting rehabilitation plan is loss of benefit for 26 weeks.
Compulsion to access medical treatment
The Bill will allow employment advisors to decide the appropriate activity a claimant should undertake to be ready for work, including activities to
manage their health. This power could be used to require a claimant to access healthcare provision, take medication or access psychological therapies.
This will blur the boundaries between health provision and social control, and may mean that people are compelled to access physical or mental health
treatment in order to obtain their benefits.
The bill proposes that information about benefit claimants will be more widely shared between government agencies, including sharing information from
the police, prison service and health services with employment agencies.
Right to control for disabled people
The proposal is for a pilot to see whether people should be given control over their social care support, it does not give a commitment that this will
happen for everyone. The government does not yet have a clear idea about what types of funding and support people would be given control over, how
they would implement individual budgets or how they would give increased control to people who do not want individual budgets.
Social fund and Community Care Grants
Plans for the future of the social fund are not clear. The proposal is for the Social Fund to be partially administered by private loan providers who
would charge interest on the loans, yet there is no rationale about how this will improve the operation of the fund. The bill will also enable
successful Community Care Grant applicants to be provided with the item they have applied for rather than money.
The Welfare Reform Bill introduces compulsory joint birth registration for unmarried parents, and sanctions can be applied if a mother fails to
disclose the father of her child.
The bill also proposes new collection and compliance arrangements for child maintenance, including the withdrawal of driving licences and passports of
non-resident parents who do not pay child maintenance.
More information here