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The Income Support (Work-Related Activity) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017

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PART 1General

Citation, commencement and interpretation

1.—(1) These Regulations may be cited as the Income Support (Work-Related Activity) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017 and shall come into operation immediately after the coming into operation of the Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016(1).

(2) In these Regulations—

“action plan” means an action plan given in accordance with regulation 3;

“benefit week” means any period of 7 days corresponding to the week in respect of which income support is due to be paid;

“working day” means any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971(2).

(3) Whether a person is responsible for another and whether a child is to be treated as being a member of a person’s household are to be determined in accordance with regulations 15 and 16 of the Income Support (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987(3).

(4) The Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954(4) shall apply to these Regulations as it applies to an Act of the Assembly.

PART 2Work-Related Activity

Requirement to undertake work-related activity

2.—(1) The Department may require a person who satisfies the conditions in paragraph (2) to undertake work-related activity(5) as a condition of continuing to be entitled to the full amount of income support payable apart from these Regulations.

(2) The conditions referred to in paragraph (1) are that the person—

(a)is entitled to income support;

(b)is subject to a requirement imposed under section 2A of the Social Security Administration (Northern Ireland) Act 1992;

(c)is not a lone parent(6) of a child under the age of 3; and

(d)falls within paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 1B to the Income Support (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987(7) and no other paragraph within that Schedule.

(3) A requirement imposed under paragraph (1)—

(a)must be reasonable in the view of the Department, having regard to the person’s circumstances; and

(b)may not require the person to apply for a job or undertake work, whether as an employee or otherwise.

Notification of work-related activity

3.—(1) The Department must notify a person of a requirement to undertake work-related activity by including the requirement in a written action plan which is given to the person.

(2) The action plan must contain—

(a)particulars of the work-related activity which the person is to undertake; and

(b)any other information that the Department considers appropriate.

Requirement to undertake work-related activity at a certain time not to apply

4.  The Department may determine that a requirement as to the time at, or by, which work-related activity is to be undertaken is not to apply, or is to be treated as not having applied, if in the view of the Department it would be, or would have been, unreasonable to require the person to undertake the activity at or by that time.

Reconsideration of action plans

5.—(1) A person may request the reconsideration of an action plan.

(2) On receipt of a request the Department must reconsider the action plan.

(3) A decision of the Department following a request must be in writing and given to the person.

Failure to undertake work-related activity

6.—(1) A person who is required to undertake work-related activity but fails to do so must show good cause for the failure before the end of 5 working days beginning on and including the date on which the Department gives notice to the person of the failure.

(2) The Department must determine whether a person who is required to undertake work-related activity has failed to do so and, if so, whether the person has shown good cause for the failure.

(3) In a case where within one month of the date on which the Department gave notice to a person of their failure to undertake work-related activity—

(a)the person brings new facts to the attention of the Department which could not reasonably have been brought to the attention of the Department within the period specified in paragraph (1); and

(b)those facts show that the person had good cause for failing to undertake work-related activity,

paragraph (1) applies with the modification that for the words “5 working days” there is substituted “one month”.

(4) Where a notice under paragraph (1) is sent by post it is taken to have been received on the second working day after it is sent.

Good cause

7.—(1) Matters to be taken into account by the Department in determining whether a person has shown good cause for failing to undertake work-related activity for the purposes of regulation 6(2) include that—

(a)the person misunderstood the requirement to undertake work-related activity due to any learning, language or literacy difficulties of the person or any misleading information given to the person by the Department;

(b)the person was attending a medical or dental appointment, or accompanying someone for whom they have caring responsibilities to such an appointment, and it would have been unreasonable, in the circumstances, for the person to undertake work-related activity;

(c)the person had difficulties with their normal mode of transport and that no reasonable alternative was available;

(d)the established customs and practices of the religion to which the person belongs prevented the person undertaking work-related activity on that day or at that time;

(e)the person was attending an interview with an employer with a view to obtaining employment;

(f)the person was pursuing employment opportunities as a self-employed earner;

(g)the person, a dependant of the person or someone for whom the person provides care suffered an accident, sudden illness or relapse of a physical or mental health condition;

(h)the person was attending the funeral of a close friend or relative on the day fixed for the work-related activity;

(i)a disability from which the person suffers made it impracticable to attend at the time fixed for the work-related activity;

(j)childcare for a child who is a member of the person’s household and for whom the person is responsible was not available on the day or at the time fixed for the work-related activity.

(2) In this regulation the term “self-employed earner” has the meaning set out in regulation 2(1) of the Income Support (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987.

Reduction of income support

8.—(1) Where the Department has determined that a person who was required to undertake work-related activity has failed to do so and has not shown good cause for that failure in accordance with regulation 6 (failure to undertake work-related activity), the amount of income support payable to the person is to be reduced in accordance with paragraph (2).

(2) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), the amount of the reduction of income support in relation to each failure is 20 per cent. of the amount applicable in respect of a single claimant for income support aged not less than 25 as prescribed in paragraph 1(1)(e) of Schedule 2 to the Income Support (General) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987.

(3) In any benefit week, the amount of income support payable to a person is not, by virtue of paragraph (1), to be reduced below 10 pence.

(4) The amount of income support payable to a person is not to be reduced in accordance with paragraph (1) if that amount—

(a)is, at the time a determination falls to be made in respect of the current failure, being paid at a reduced rate in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (2), regulations 7(3) and 8 of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Lone Parents) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001(8) or regulation 11(2)(c) of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003(9); and

(b)was last reduced not more than 2 weeks before the date of the current failure.

(5) In this regulation—

“current failure” means a failure which, in relation to a person, may lead to a reduction in income support under paragraph (1) in relation to which the Department has not yet determined whether the amount of income support payable to the person is to be reduced in accordance with this regulation.

Circumstances where reduction under regulation 8(1) ceases to have effect

9.—(1) The reduction in income support under regulation 8(1) in respect of a failure to undertake work-related activity ceases to have effect in respect of a person from whichever is the earlier of—

(a)the date on which the person is no longer required to take part in a work-related activity as a condition of continuing to be entitled to the full amount of benefit which is payable apart from these Regulations; or

(b)the first day of the benefit week in which the person satisfies a compliance condition.

(2) In paragraph (1)(b), “compliance condition” means a requirement to—

(a)undertake work-related activity; or

(b)take part in a work-focused interview.

Restrictions on availability

10.—(1) Subject to paragraph (2), a person to whom regulation 2 applies may restrict the times at which they are required to undertake work-related activity.

(2) A person may not restrict the times at which they are required to undertake work-related activity by virtue of paragraph (1) to exclude—

(a)their child’s normal school hours; or

(b)any period during which the person entrusts temporary supervision of their child to a person over the age of 18 (not including any period during which the child is provided with any form of health care).

(3) In this regulation, references to “their child” are to a child who is a member of the person’s household and for whom the person is responsible.

Contracting out

11.—(1) Any function of the Department under this Part specified in paragraph (2) may be exercised by, or by employees of, such person (if any) as the Department may authorise for that purpose.

(2) The functions are any function under—

(a)regulation 2 (requirement to undertake work-related activity);

(b)regulation 3 (notification of work-related activity);

(c)regulation 4 (requirement to undertake work-related activity at a certain time not to apply);

(d)regulation 5 (reconsideration of action plans).

PART 3Miscellaneous Amendments

Amendment of the Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999

12.—(1) The Social Security and Child Support (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999(10) are amended in accordance with paragraphs (2) to (5).

(2) In regulation 1(2) (citation, commencement, application and interpretation) in the appropriate place insert the following definition—

“Income Support Work-Related Activity Regulations” means the Income Support (Work-Related Activity) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016;.

(3) In regulation 3 (revision of decisions) after paragraph (7CC) insert—

(7CD) A decision of the Department under Article 11 made in consequence of a determination under regulation 6(2) of the Income Support Work-Related Activity Regulations that a claimant has failed to satisfy a requirement of regulation 2 of those Regulations (requirement to undertake work-related activity) may be revised at any time if it contained an error to which the claimant did not materially contribute..

(4) In regulation 6(2) (supersession of decisions) after sub-paragraph (s) insert—

(t)is a decision awarding income support where there has been a determination by the Department under regulation 6(2) of the Income Support Work-Related Activity Regulations that a person has failed to undertake work-related activity;

(u)is a decision made in consequence of a determination by the Department that a person has failed to undertake work-related activity where a reduction under regulation 8(1) of the Income Support Work-Related Activity Regulations ceases to have effect by virtue of regulation 9 of those Regulations..

(5) In regulation 7 (date from which a decision superseded under Article 11 takes effect) after paragraph (40) insert—

(41) A decision made in accordance with regulation 6(2)(t) shall take effect from the first day of the next benefit week following the day on which the determination mentioned in that sub-paragraph was made.

(42) A decision made in accordance with regulation 6(2)(u) shall take effect from the first day of the benefit week in which the reduction mentioned in that sub-paragraph ceased to have effect

(43) In paragraphs (41) and (42), benefit week has the same meaning as in paragraphs (25) and (26)..

Amendment of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Lone Parents) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001

13.—(1) The Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Lone Parents) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001(11) are amended in accordance with paragraphs (2) to (7).

(2) In regulation 2ZA (requirement for certain lone parents to take part in an interview)—

(a)in paragraph (1)—

(i)after sub-paragraph (a) insert “and”;

(ii)omit sub-paragraphs (c) and (d);

(b)for paragraph (2) substitute—

(2) Subject to regulations 4 and 5, a lone parent to whom this regulation applies is required to take part in one or more interviews as a condition of continuing to be entitled to the full amount of benefit which is payable to him apart from these Regulations.;

(c)in paragraph (3)(b) omit “waived or”.

(3) In regulation 2B (the interview) for paragraph (1) substitute—

(1) An interview under these Regulations shall take place—

(a)where regulation 2ZA applies, on such date as may be determined by an officer;

(b)in any other case, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the date on which the requirement to take part in the interview arises..

(4) In regulation 4 (circumstances where requirement to take part in an interview does not apply)—

(a)in paragraph (1), after “Regulations 2”, insert “, 2ZA”;

(b)in paragraph (1A) for “Regulation 2” substitute “Regulations 2 and 2ZA”; and

(c)omit paragraph (2).

(5) In regulation 6 (waiver)—

(a)in paragraph (1) for “these Regulations” substitute “regulations 2(1) and 2ZB(2)”; and

(b)in paragraph (2)(a) omit “, 2ZA”.

(6) In regulation 7 (consequence of failure to take part in a work-focused interview)—

(a)in paragraph (1)—

(i)for “(2) and (5)” substitute “(2), (5) and (5A)”; and

(ii)in sub-paragraph (b) for “day on which the interview was to take place” substitute “date on which the person was notified of his failure to take part in the interview”;

(b)after paragraph (1) insert—

(1A) Where a notice under paragraph (1)(b) is sent by post it is taken to have been received on the second working day after it is sent.;

(c)in paragraph (2)(a) for “ day on which the interview was to take place” substitute “date on which the person was notified of his failure to take part in the interview”;

(d)after paragraph (5) insert—

(5A) The amount of income support payable to a person is not to be reduced in accordance with paragraph (3) if that amount—

(a)is, at the time a decision falls to be made in respect of the current failure, being paid at a reduced rate in accordance with paragraph (3) and regulation 8, regulation 11(2)(c) of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003(12) or regulation 8(1) and (2) of the Income Support (Work-Related Activity) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016; and

(b)was last reduced not more than 2 weeks before the date of the current failure.

(5B) In paragraph (5A), “current failure” means a failure which may, in the case of a claimant who has an award of income support, lead to a reduction in income support under paragraph (3) and regulation 8 in relation to which the Department has not yet determined whether the amount of income support payable to the person is to be reduced in accordance with that paragraph and regulation.

(5C) In this regulation “working day” means any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971..

(7) in regulation 8 (reduction of income support)—

(a)in paragraph (3)(c) for “meets the requirement to take part in an interview” substitute “satisfies a compliance condition”; and

(b)after paragraph (3) insert—

(3A) In paragraph (3)(c), “compliance condition” means a requirement to —

(a)take part in an interview; or

(b)undertake work-related activity..

Amendment of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003

14.—(1) The Social Security (Work-focused Interviews) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003(13) are amended in accordance with paragraphs (2) to (9).

(2) In regulation 1 (citation, commencement and interpretation) in paragraph (3) in the appropriate place insert the following definition—

“working day” means any day other than a Saturday, a Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday or a day which is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971..

(3) In regulation 3A (requirement for certain lone parents to take part in an interview)—

(a)in paragraph (1)—

(i)after sub-paragraph (b) insert “and”;

(ii)omit sub-paragraph (c)

(iii)in sub-paragraph (d), omit the word “he”;

(b)for paragraph (2) substitute—

(2) Subject to regulations 6 to 8, a lone parent to whom this regulation applies is required to take part in one or more interviews as a condition of continuing to be entitled to the full amount of benefit which is payable to him apart from these Regulations.;

(c)in paragraph (3)(b) omit “waived or”.

(4) In regulation 4 (time when interview is to take place)—

(a)in paragraph (2), omit “as soon as reasonably practicable after”;

(b)in paragraph (2)(a) before “the requirement to take part” insert “as soon as reasonably practicable after”;

(c)after paragraph (2)(a) insert—

(aa)in a case where regulation 3A(2) applies, on such a date as may be determined by the officer; or;

(d)in paragraph (2)(b)—

(i)after “in any other case” insert “, as soon as reasonably practicable after”;

(ii)omit head (i);

(iii)in head (ii) omit “but regulation 3A(1) does not apply,”; and

(iv)in head (iii) omit “either” and “or regulation 3A(2)”.

(5) In regulation 5 (waiver of requirement to take part in an interview)—

(a)at the beginning of paragraph (1) insert “Except in a case where a requirement is imposed by virtue of regulation 3A(2),”;

(b)in paragraph (2)(a) for “3A” substitute “3ZA”.

(6) In regulation 7 (exemptions) in paragraph (4) after “3ZA” insert “, 3A”.

(7) In regulation 10 (taking part in an interview)—

(a)in paragraph (4) for “day on which the interview was to take place” substitute “date on which the person was notified of his failure to take part in the interview”; and

(b)after paragraph (4) insert—

(5) Where a notice under paragraph (4) is sent by post it is taken to have been received on the second working day after it is sent..

(8) In regulation 11 (failure to take part in an interview)—

(a)in paragraph (9) for “takes part in an interview” substitute “satisfies a compliance condition” and for “requirement to take part in an interview was met” substitute “compliance condition was satisfied”;

(b)after paragraph (9) insert—

(9A) In paragraph (9) “compliance condition” means a requirement to—

(a)take part in an interview; or

(b)undertake work-related activity.; and

(c)in paragraph (12)(a) for “day on which the interview was to take place” substitute “date on which the person was notified of his failure to take part in the interview”.

(9) After regulation 11 insert—

Circumstances where the amount of benefit payable to a claimant is not to be reduced in accordance with regulation 11(2)(c)

11A.(1) The amount of benefit payable to a claimant is not to be reduced in accordance with regulation 11(2)(c) if that amount—

(a)is, at the time the relevant decision falls to be made in respect of the current failure, being paid at a reduced rate in accordance with regulation 11(2)(c), regulations 7(3) and 8 of the Social Security (Work-focused Interviews for Lone Parents) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2001 or regulation 8(1) and (2) of the Income Support (Work-Related Activity) and Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016; and

(b)was last reduced not more than 2 weeks before the date of the current failure.

(2) In paragraph (1) “current failure” means a failure which may, in the case of a claimant who has an award of benefit, lead to a reduction in benefit under regulation 11(2)(c) in relation to which the Department has not yet determined whether the amount of benefit payable to the claimant is to be reduced in accordance with that regulation..

Amendment of the Employment and Support Allowance (Work-related Activity) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011

15.  In regulation 3(2)(b) of the Employment and Support Allowance (Work-related Activity) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2011 (requirement to undertake work-related activity) (14) for “5” substitute “3”.

Amendment of the Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016

16.  In regulation 90(1) of the Universal Credit Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 (claimants subject to work-focused interview requirement only) (15) for “5” substitute “3”.

Amendment of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016

17.  In regulation 48(1) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016(16) (claimants subject to work-focused interview requirement only) for “5” substitute “3”.

Signed by authority of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Damian Hinds

Minister of State,

Department for Work and Pensions

16th January 2017

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