Welfare Reform Bill — Clause 69 — Ending of discretionary payments — 15 Jun 2011 at 15:00

The majority of MPs voted not to require details of a replacement scheme (with published eligibility criteria) for providing emergency help from the benefits system, before abolishing discretionary payments out of the Social Fund.

Discretionary payments were used to provide funds to people who could not afford to buy household items such as beds and cookers. During the debate it was noted that the Welfare Reform Bill[1] included various provisions, including "payments on account"[2] which would replace the current discretionary payments.

During debate MP Karen Buck (Labour, Westminster North), who proposed the rejected amendment, explained her motivation[3]:

  • I am deeply concerned that the Government propose to remove the discretionary element of the social fund without giving us a great deal more clarity about how the poorest and most vulnerable will be protected, about the adequacy of the replacement system, about the protection of vulnerable people without a local connection

Minister Maria Miller MP (Basingstoke, Conservative) argued the existing provisions in the bill were sufficient saying[4]:

  • the national scheme of payments on account and the local provision, as delivered by local authorities and the devolved Administrations, will provide well-considered replacements for the discretionary social fund, and will make sure that we are supporting more effectively than is currently the case the vulnerable individuals we have discussed today.

Karen Buck MP's rejected amendment[5] stated:

  • page 52, line 22, leave out subsection (1) and insert—
  • ‘(1) Section 138(1)(b) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (discretionary payments out of Social Fund) may be repealed, if the Secretary of State—
  • (a) publishes a detailed proposal for a replacement scheme, or schemes, based on wide consultation with relevant stakeholders;
  • (b) ensures that such a scheme, or schemes, will provide financial protection for applicants in an emergency or crisis, with the eligibility criteria for applicants specified in regulations;
  • (c) demonstrates the feasibility of such a scheme, or schemes, through a pilot or pathfinder process; and
  • (d) demonstrates how an independent appeals mechanism will be implemented.’.

Prior to the consideration of the rejected amendment subsection 1 of clause 69[6] of the Welfare Reform Bill[7] read:

  • (1) Section 138(1)(b) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 (discretionary payments out of social fund) is repealed.

An impact assessment on the abolition of elements of the discretionary Social Fund and replacement with new local welfare assistance was produced in October 2011[8] (a few months after this vote in June 2011). The assessment stated further work would be required on the policy before its costs could be calculated.

Debate in Parliament | Source |

Public Whip is run as a free not-for-profit service. If you'd like to support us, please consider switching your (UK) electricity and/or gas to Octopus Energy or tip us via Ko-Fi.

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Alliance0 10100.0%
Con261 (+1 tell) 0085.6%
DUP0 6075.0%
Green0 10100.0%
Independent0 10100.0%
Lab0 220 (+2 tell)086.4%
LDem39 (+1 tell) 0070.2%
PC0 2066.7%
SDLP0 1033.3%
SNP0 5083.3%
Total:300 237084.1%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

no rebellions

About the Project

The Public Whip is a not-for-profit, open source website created in 2003 by Francis Irving and Julian Todd and now run by Bairwell Ltd.

The Whip on the Web

Help keep PublicWhip alive