Conditionality - Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

Welfare Benefit Reform:
Conditionality and Sanctions
Peter Meehan
HB Adviser
27th August 2014
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
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
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.
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
Number of Sanctions in 2013 - 860,000
4.35% of JSA claimants per month
One third are for failure to actively seek
One third are for failure to participate in work
programme or training
One fifth are for failure to attend advisory
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
An Easement for Homeless Claimants
The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Homeless
Claimants) Amendment Regulations 2014
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