Universal credit claimants are to have the time they can look for a job in their own field drastically cut from three months to one month as the government aims to force 500,000 people into work of any kind by June. Claimants who do not comply with the new Way To Work regime will face having their benefits sanctioned.

At present, claimants are allowed to seek work just in their preferred area of skill for the first three months of a claim. Even this is a relatively short time to secure work if you have experience and qualifications where vacancies arise less frequently.

One month is a highly unrealistic time in which to find a vacancy, go through the recruitment process and be appointed.

Once claimants are forced to take any vacancy offered, or have a sanction imposed on them and their family, they will find it much harder to obtain work in the area they are qualified in.

They will have less time for job seeking, less opportunity to attend interviews and are likely to be looked on less favourably by some employers if they have been working in a lower skilled field for some time.

Having to take often insecure work is also more likely to lead to repeated periods of unemployment, potentially having to serve another five week qualifying period for universal credit, with all the damage that does to household finances.

The DWP say that:

"Targeted predominantly at those in the intensive work search group on Universal Credit, Way to Work will support people back into work faster than ever before and filling vacancies more quickly.

"To support people into work faster those who are capable of work will be expected to search more widely for available jobs from the fourth week of their claim, rather than from three months as is currently the case.

"This clearer focus will ensure that, if people are not able to find work in their previous occupation or sector, they are expected to look for work in another sector and this will be part of their requirements for receiving their benefit payment.

"For the vast majority of people who are already engaging fully with Jobcentre Plus, this could be the extra support they need to secure a job. However, for the small minority who do not engage, the sanctions regime will operate as usual."

"They will be supported in this with more time spent face to face with a Work Coach to receive better, tailored support. We know work is the best way for people to get on, to improve their lives and support their families because people are at least £6,000 better off in full time work than on benefits."

At the same time as the DWP is ramping up the threat of sanctions, it is also refusing to publish a report which they themselves created in 2019 into the effectiveness of sanctions. At the time, the DWP said they would make the findings public.

However, they have now refused a Freedom of Information Request from a Glasgow based economist and social security expert for a copy of the report.

The DWP say they have changed their mind about publishing the report because it contains details of a sensitive nature.

The reality is that there is ample evidence that the threat of sanctions simply makes claimants more stressed, ill and unable to obtain employment.

But a crackdown on claimants is one of the populist measures that governments of every persuasion resort to when they are in trouble. It now looks like just such a crackdown has begun.

Benefits and Work members can download a copy of our 30 page guide to Ways to prevent and overturn ESA and UC sanctions from the ESA and UC page

Read the DWP press release on Way To Work

Read more about the Way To Work regime and about the secret sanctions report in the Guardian.


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    James · 2 years ago
    Told to take my MA off my CV when applying for ‘Any’ job. Along with my MPhil and fill the void of those years studying with something else!
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