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Welfare Reform Bill and Other Stories

A busy week in politics with dinners and speeches and Bills and Royal Assents.  

13 Bills have received Royal Assent and became Acts of Parliament (law) on 12 November.  The most interesting ones for our sector are obviously the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill and the Welfare Reform Bill but there was also others which may be of interest.

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act contains a wide range of measures including the right to an apprenticeship for 16-18 year olds, the right to request time off for training.  The Act also formally dissolves the Learning and Skills Council, transferring funding responsibility to local authorities and creates the Young Person’s Learning Agency, the Skills Funding Agency, a new regulatory body for qualifications (Ofqual), and a new agency to carry out non-regulatory functions performed by the QCA.

The Welfare Reform Act:

  • formally abolishes Income Support
  • makes the contribution requirements for ESA, the same as for JSA
  • includes updates to the sanctions regime for fraud convictions, failure to undertake work-related activity, violent conduct, failure to attend a mandatory interview
  • introduces the ability for ESA claimants and partners of the unemployed to be directed to undertake work-related activity
  • includes work for your benefit pilots
  • introduces fines for unemployed lone parents (in the relevant group) if they don't prepare for work while receiving benefits 

It also includes a range of other welfare measures.

Current Bills that are before parliament for the current session include the Equality Bill.  Among other things this is looking at extending age discrimination protection outside the workplace, clarifying protection against discrimination by association, provides for legislation requiring employers to review gender pay differences and publish results and creating a unified public sector duty to promote equality in public policy and decision-making.  Sexual orientation, religion and belief are featured, so don't say you haven't been warned - start looking at your equality policies and data now!

As an aside, this does make you wonder how anything happens in the UK.  You just need to look at the stages of the Welfare Reform Bill and the documents to see how convoluted the system is.  We did have a go at tracking the bill through from start to finish but decided that following the yellow brick road and finding the Wizard of Oz may be more achievable, so you'll currently find us somewhere over the rainbow - more news when we get back!

 


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