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Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999


This section provides powers which are intended to enable closer working between central and local government in order to make the delivery of social security benefits more customer-focused and better co-ordinated. In particular, the section provides new functions for local authorities, enabling them to collect and record information, and give advice, in respect of benefits which are administered by central government.

The Department’s aim is an integrated service which allows clients, as far as possible, to claim social security benefits, child support and war pensions, give information and make enquiries through a single point of contact.

Local authorities are responsible for the administration of Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) and, under current legislation, they may only collect information relevant to those particular benefits. It is intended that regulations will be made under this section to enable local authorities to play a full part in integrated working initiatives, in particular, the ONE service (see sections 57, 58 and 72), by allowing them to handle a wider range of social security functions. The section will also enable other partners in integrated working arrangements, such as the Benefits Agency and Employment Service, to provide a similar service in relation to claims for HB and CTB.

It is also intended that clients will be able to claim a range of social security benefits using a single, integrated, claim form. For example, the Department’s longer-term plans for improving and streamlining service to pensioners envisage that people wanting to claim Retirement Pension, Income Support, HB and CTB will be able to do so on the same form, rather than having to complete separate claims and provide the same information to both the Benefits Agency and the local authority.

This section does not make any changes to current responsibilities for determining claims. Local authorities will remain responsible for HB and CTB, and claims or information they collect relating to war pensions, child support, or benefits administered by the Benefits Agency will be passed to the relevant Agency for processing.

Schedule 12 provides for local authorities to be paid for the extra work arising from this section (and the provisions for work-focused interviews in sections 57 and 58). See the commentary after this section for more details.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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