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Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013 — Motion to Approve

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 13th February 2013.

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Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 9:45 pm, 13th February 2013

Again, I thank noble Lords for some very good contributions. This is not the easiest or most digestible set of regulations. They very much replicate the existing decisions and appeals provisions but, just as the welfare reform agenda has provided an opportunity to reduce the complex range of income-related benefits, with the introduction of UC, it has also provided an opportunity to rationalise the rules governing the administration of these new benefits. This consolidated set of regulations does that by ensuring that the rules underpinning decisions and appeal rights are clearer and more accessible, benefiting both claimants and, indeed, the department.

On the detail of mandatory reconsideration, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, in particular, that we will closely monitor the impact on claimants, the quality of decision-making and appeal rates during the early stages of implementation. It is a key change that will improve claimants' experience of the appeals process if we get it right. We will also monitor appeal volumes more broadly, particularly with the introduction of the new benefits, UC and PIP. We will review and amend the advice for decision-makers guidance as necessary, and if we find that the regulations are at fault there is an option to amend them.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, regarding the time limit, the key issue is that we will be able to handle some cases with extreme speed while others may take more time, particularly where we need to ask for more evidence. I will commit to keeping noble Lords updated on that matter. On reconsiderations, we envisage that the first point of call will be to our staff, but some people may choose to go to an independent advice centre, although we had not been envisaging this as part of the role of the local support service.