Universal Credit claimants could face more sanctions as ‘Way to Work’ comes into force

Universal Credit: Expert discusses benefits of claiming

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Under the new conditions claimants will have less time to find a job and will need to look for work outside of their preferred industries and careers. The changes align with Government plans to get 500,000 jobseekers into work by June 2022.

While employment statistics are one of the more heartwarming numbers to come out of 2022, the number of job vacancies is still shockingly high.

To combat this, the UK Government hopes the changes will help to shorten the period that people are unemployed on the benefit system and get back into work sooner.

These changes will mean claimants could be forced to look outside of their speciality, career choice and experience in order to find work. 

The decision has been criticised as this will likely see claimants ending up in jobs that do not match them or their skills. 

Currently, unemployed claimants have three months to search for work in their chosen field or role before they need to look elsewhere in order to continue getting the benefit. 

The update will see this time period shortened to just one month.

The change has been dubbed “Way to Work”, forcing jobseekers to look outside of their comfort zone or face financial sanctions.

Claimants that are seen as “not making a reasonable effort” to secure work, or turn down job offers, will also see their benefits sanctioned. 

Sanctions reduce the amount of Universal Credit claimants receive and are usually used for those that defy the claimant commitments. 

The amount that their payment is reduced to will depend on: 

  • What the claimant is being sanctioned for
  • Their excuse or reasoning for not meeting their commitments
  • How many previous sanctions they have had. 

If anyone has a joint claim and their partner doesn’t meet the claimant commitments, the joint payment could be reduced. 

However, the National Audit Office notes that international studies have proven that although sanctions like this do work, the side effects can be more costly than other methods of encouraging employment. 

The studies found that these sanctions can lead to lower wages and increase the number of people that move off of benefits into simple inactivity.  

It is said that “Way to Work” is to aid the sectors such as hospitality and social care which are in desperate need of workers to fill vacancies.

The Government has reported that there are currently 1.2 million job vacancies, which is a 59 percent increase on pre-pandemic levels. 

Work and Pensions secretary, Therese Coffey, commented: “Helping people get any job now, means they can get a better job and progress into a career.

“Way to Work is a step change in our offer to claimants and employers, making sure our jobcentre network and excellent work coaches can deliver opportunities, jobs and prosperity to all areas of the country.”

Alison McGovern, Labour’s shadow employment minister, suggested the change “has more to do with trying to save the Prime Minister’s job than supporting people into work”.

She added: “People should be supported into good jobs that match their skills, which would give them a better chance to secure work long-term.”

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