1.2 million low-paid workers face new sanctions

Almost 1.2 million low-paid workers on the new universal credit risk benefit sanctions if they fail to take steps to boost their earnings, according to think-tank estimates. The Resolution Foundation report calls the change a move into 'uncharted territory'.

Under the planned new rules, claimants face losing payments if they fail to find additional work, increase their hours or find a higher-paid job – the first time such a conditionality regime, already applied to unemployment benefit claimants, has been extended to those in work.

Key points

  • Under universal credit (due to be introduced in stages over 2013–2017), benefits conditionality will be extended to just under 1.2 million working people – people who have never before thought of themselves as part of the benefits system, or had to interact with the apparatus of the state in this way.
  • About 700,000 single people will be affected, as well as 500,000 living as part of a couple.
  • The change is being made at a time of chronic national under-employment, with 1.4 million people working part time because they can't find full-time work – compared with just 0.5 million in 2004.
  • The new conditionality system could pose a major new challenge to Jobcentre Plus, representing a large expansion of the existing caseload for advisors. The report questions how fair and rigorous the system will be without extra resources for the service.

Source: Matthew Pennycook and Matthew Whittaker, Conditions Uncertain: Assessing the Implications of Universal Credit In-work Conditionality, Resolution Foundation
LinksReport | Resolution press release | Guardian report

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