On 20 March 2023, the second reading and all remaining stages of the Social Security (Additional Payments) (No. 2) Bill are scheduled to take place in the House of Lords. It was introduced in the House of Commons on 7 February 2023 and completed its Commons stages on 6 March 2023.
The bill has been certified as a money bill. This limits the extent to which the House of Lords can propose significant changes.
The bill would provide for additional payments to be made in the 2023/24 financial year to help vulnerable households with the increased cost of living. Three payments totalling £900 would be paid to households qualifying for certain benefits at different points in the year, and one payment of £150 would be paid to those in receipt of certain disability benefits. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt committed to these payments as part of the autumn statement on 17 November 2022.
A similar bill was passed earlier in the session providing for additional payments in 2022. The previous bill provided for different payment amounts, but contained the same eligibility requirements.
The current bill has received cross-party support. However, concerns have been raised about the payments not being available to households facing benefit sanctions and the ‘cliff-edge’ nature of the payments, whereby individuals either qualify for the entire payment or miss out on it completely. The government has explained that it has kept the system as simple as possible to avoid challenges administering the payments.
This briefing summarises the background to the legislation, commentary from the House of Commons Treasury Committee and the Commons proceedings on the bill.