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PART IVBENEFITS

Amendments, etc. of the Contributions and Benefits Act

Daily rate of maternity allowance

63.  In subsection (5) of section 35 of the Contributions and Benefits Act (state maternity allowance), for paragraphs (a) and (b) there shall be substituted the words “the amount payable by way of that allowance for any day shall be taken as one seventh of the weekly rate of the allowance.”.

Rates of short-term incapacity benefit

64.  For subsection (4) of section 44 of the Contributions and Benefits Act (Category A retirement pension) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(4) The weekly rate of the basic pension shall be £64.70 except that, so far as the sum is relevant for the purpose of calculating the lower rate of short-term incapacity benefit under section 30B(3) above, it shall be £62.05.

Validation of certain housing benefit determinations

65.—(1) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), in so far as a housing benefit determination made before 18th August 1997 purported to determine that housing benefit was payable in respect of—

(a)charges for medical care, nursing care or personal care; or

(b)charges for general counselling or any other support services,

it shall be deemed to have been validly made if, on the assumption mentioned in paragraph (2), it would have been so made.

(2) The assumption is that, at all material times, such charges as are mentioned in paragraph (1) were eligible to be met by housing benefit where the claimant’s right to occupy the dwelling was conditional on his payment of the charges.

(3) Where the effect of a review carried out on or after 18th August 1997 was to revise the amount of housing benefit payable in respect of any validated charges—

(a)the revision shall be deemed not to have been validly made in so far as it had the effect of increasing that amount; and

(b)housing benefit shall cease to be payable in respect of those charges as from the beginning of the period for which the first payment of the revised amount of benefit was made.

(4) Housing benefit shall not be payable in respect of any validated charges for any period falling after—

(a)5th April 1998 where the rent is payable at intervals of a whole number of weeks; and

(b)31st March 1998 in any other case.

(5) In this Article—

Discretionary payments out of the social fund

66.—(1) For subsection (1) of section 134 of the Contributions and Benefits Act (payments out of the social fund) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(1) There may be made out of the social fund, in accordance with this Part of this Act—

(a)payments of prescribed amounts, whether in respect of prescribed items or otherwise, to meet, in prescribed circumstances, maternity expenses and funeral expenses; and

(b)payments by way of community care grant, crisis loan or budgeting loan to meet other needs in accordance with directions given or guidance issued by the Department..

(2) After subsection (4) of that section there shall be added the following subsection—

(5) In this Part—

“budgeting loan” means a loan awarded in circumstances specified in directions issued by the Department for the purpose of defraying an intermittent expense;

“community care grant” means a grant awarded in circumstances so specified for the purpose of meeting a need for community care;

“crisis loan” means a loan awarded in circumstances so specified for the purpose of meeting an immediate short term need,

and any reference in this subsection to meeting a need or defraying an expense includes a reference to helping to meet the need or to defray the expense..

Budgeting loans: criteria for making awards

67.—(1) In subsection (1) of section 136 of the Contributions and Benefits Act (principles of determination), after the word “award” there shall be inserted the words “of a community care grant or a crisis loan”.

(2) After that subsection there shall be inserted the following subsection—

(1A) Subject to subsection (2) below, in determining whether to make an award of a budgeting loan to the applicant, or the amount or value to be awarded, an appropriate officer shall have regard to—

(a)such of the applicant’s personal circumstances as are of a description specified in directions issued by the Department; and

(b)the criteria specified in paragraphs (b) to (e) of subsection (1) above,

but where the criterion mentioned in paragraph (a) above would preclude the award of such a loan, the appropriate officer shall have regard instead to such other criterion as may be specified in directions so issued..

(3) In subsection (4) of that section, paragraph (e) shall cease to have effect and after paragraph (a) there shall be inserted the following paragraph—

(aa)that in circumstances specified in the direction an application for an award of a community care grant may be treated as an application for an award of a crisis loan, and vice versa;.

Power to reduce child benefit for lone parents

68.—(1) Regulations may revoke any provision of regulations which prescribes a higher rate of child benefit in the case of a lone parent, notwithstanding anything in section 141(4) of the Contributions and Benefits Act (which precludes regulations from prescribing a rate lower than the rate it replaces).

(2) In this Article “lone parent” means a parent who—

(a)has no spouse or is not living with his spouse; and

(b)is not living with any other person as his spouse.

Statutory sick pay not precluded by maternity allowance

69.  In paragraph 2(d) of Schedule 11 to the Contributions and Benefits Act (circumstances in which periods of entitlement to statutory sick pay do not arise), the words “(ii) she was entitled to a maternity allowance; or” shall cease to have effect.