Secretary Of State for Work And Pensions v Doyle (2006)


This Court of Appeal decision, reported as R(IB)1/06, from an earlier commissioner's decision confirms the use of the Computation of Earnings Regulations as the means whereby incapacity benefit permitted work is calculated.

Commissioner's decision

In CIB/4174/2003 (This decision has now been reported as R(IB)3/07)Commissioner Angus held that the Social Security (Computation of Earnings) Regulations 1996 should not be used to calculate exempt work because there were no "enacted rules" for doing this. The decision maker is instead required to establish "the level of actual earnings in a particular week" which exceeds the earnings limit for exempt work.

"Regulation 3 of the Computation Regulations provides that those regulations are for the calculation of earnings for the purposes of Parts II to V of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act and the regulations made under those parts of that Act: but the Incapacity for Work (General) Regulations are made under and for the purposes of Part XIIA of the 1992 Act. The preamble to the Computation Regulations invokes none of the regulation making powers enacted in Part XIIA of the Act. Moreover the averaging of earnings as required by the Computation Regulations is inconsistent with the purpose of regulation 17(2) of the Incapacity for Work (General) Regulations which is to enact a number of hours of work and a level of actual earnings which if exceeded in any particular week excludes the work done by the claimant in that week."

The Secretary of State appealed against this decision.

Court of appeal

The Secretary of State's argument was that Part XIIA simply makes, or rather provides for the making of, provision ancillary to Part II of the Act. The Court of Appeal accepted this.

"Entitlement to IB is found in Part II of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, and that reg. 3 of the Computation Regulations requires any calculation of earnings for the purposes of that entitlement to be calculated in accordance with those regulations, which expressly require averaging. The reasons given by Mr Commissioner Angus for taking a contrary view mistakenly, in my respectful judgment, relate the Computation Regulations to the IFW Regulations: the latter are, as he says, made largely for the purposes of Part X11A of the 1992 Act, but the express purpose of the former is to give effect not to them but to Parts II to V of the Act."

The appeal was allowed and Mrs Doyle's appeal from the Appeal Tribunal was remitted to the Commissioner to be determined in accordance with the judgment of this court.

Referral back to commissioner

The decision was remitted for redetermination and the claimant's earnings recalculated using the Computation of Earnings Regulations. The commissioner found that those earnings were, at the relevant times, less than the weekly earnings limit and so the claimant was not to be treated as capable of work.

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