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Welfare Benefit Reform: Conditionality and Sanctions Peter Meehan HB Adviser 27 th August 2014

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Presentation on theme: "Welfare Benefit Reform: Conditionality and Sanctions Peter Meehan HB Adviser 27 th August 2014"— Presentation transcript:

1 Welfare Benefit Reform: Conditionality and Sanctions Peter Meehan HB Adviser 27 th August 2014

2 Conditionality Jobseekers Agreement rolling out now in advance of the full Claimant Commitment which will be a key condition for Universal Credit Roll out of Community Work Placements Either meet conditions or JSA/UC standard element will be subject to sanction ( 4 week withdrawal of JSA for first period of non-compliance then 13 week withdrawal for second and subsequent periods) Sanction currently does not apply to HB or to the housing element of Universal Credit

3 JSA Claimant Commitment When someone makes a new claim for JSA or returns to JSA from the work programme they will attend an interview with a work coach. At the interview they will agree a personal plan outlining what the claimant will do as part of their Claimant Commitment to give themselves the best chance of finding work.

4 JSA Claimant Commitment (contd) This could include regular specific tasks and training opportunities. The work coach will explain the penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work The plan will be reviewed regularly

5 Sanctions Number of Sanctions in 2013 - 860,000 4.35% of JSA claimants per month One third are for failure to actively seek employment One third are for failure to participate in work programme or training One fifth are for failure to attend advisory interview


7 Weaknesses in the current system identified in recent Scottish Government Welfare Reform Committee Report : Tough Love or Tough Luck? A consistent failure to notify people that they are being sanctioned and why. A lack of flexibility and misapplication of sanctions reducing the likelihood of people finding work A failure to appreciate that many people on benefits do not have the necessary IT skills at day one to utilise the DWP’s Universal Jobmatch facility or other IT technology

8 Weaknesses (cont’d) A failure to make those sanctioned aware of the availability of hardship payments The consistent triggering of a stop in housing benefit as a result of a sanction, which should not happen and can lead to significant debt being incurred even for a minor sanction The lack of a deadline for decision making on DWP reconsiderations leading to delays in redressing wrong decisions

9 Weaknesses (cont’d) The shunting of the costs of dealing with sanctioned claimants onto other agencies: local authorities, health boards, third sector agencies. 4 in 10 decisions to apply a sanction are overturned Sanctions are also disproportionately affecting some of the most vulnerable groups of claimants, in particular, the disabled, single parents and young people, including those who have recently left care.

10 Govt. Response to Oakley Review : Accept all recommendations setting up a specialist team to audit all communications including claimant letters, texts and emails and transform how claimants on all benefits are provided with information about their responsibilities and the support on offer – this team will take on board the latest academic research and innovations in private sector communications

11 Oakley Review : continued streamlining the robust checks and balances that are already in place that give claimants the opportunity to provide evidence of why they haven’t complied with the rules clarifying guidance and updating the process in which claimants can access hardship payments once they have been sanctioned

12 Oakley Review :continued working more closely with local authorities to coordinate their approach to deliver Housing Benefit for claimants who have been sanctioned for not doing the right thing working with providers, stakeholders and advocates for groups to continuously explore alternative formats for all types of communications with claimants

13 Oakley Review : continued ensuring the contract that claimants sign up to in exchange for their benefits – the Claimant Commitment – in which they agree what they will do to get a job, can be shared with their provider throughout their time on a back to work scheme

14 An Easement for Homeless Claimants The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Homeless Claimants) Amendment Regulations 2014

15 New Appeal arrangements for Social Security benefits. Introduction of a reconsideration stage before appeal can proceed to Tribunal Service No time limit for reconsideration stage Does not apply for HB ( which was scheduled to have been closed down for new claims from those of working age starting from October 2013) Ministers considering introducing a charge for appeals

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