Welfare Reform — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:04 pm on 10th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) (also in the Department for Communities and Local Government) 4:04 pm, 10th December 2008

My Lords, I am a little puzzled about the noble Lord's first point, but would be happy to engage with him outside this exchange to understand the detailed and specific circumstances. Under the new proposals for the jobseekers' regime, there will be three stages conducted with Jobcentre Plus. The flexible New Deal contractor would then kick in, but that would be via an arrangement involving Jobcentre Plus. I am trying to think of circumstances where contractors would just be asked to go and find the unemployed and deal with them themselves. That does not fit with the proposals that we are talking about, but I would like to understand it a bit better and see if there are issues that we should be addressing. It is not an integral part of these proposals.

Varying sanctions apply in varying circumstances. If it is the employment and support allowance, it would be the withdrawal of its work-related component.

As regards the fundamental point that the noble Lord presses, there are protections for vulnerable people, which we debated in relation to the lone parent regulations. The level of the sanction withdrawal is restricted, particularly where children are involved. However, it is quite a complicated regime; hence the need for clarity in it. I shall be happy to write if the noble Lord wants more specific detail.