The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it wants to get 500,000 people in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) into jobs by the end of June to help fill 1.2 million vacancies as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Under the current rules, people have three months to find a job in their preferred occupation before they face the prospect of sanctions. The new rules mean the penalties, which reduce their universal credit payment, could begin four weeks after their initial claim.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs at Mind says:
"Today's announcement that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will introduce sanctions earlier on from when someone claims Universal Credit is concerning. It fails to consider the thousands of people with mental health problems who are too unwell to work. We know lots of people with mental health problems fall out of work each year because of a lack of reasonable adjustments or inadequate sick pay. These measures can help people manage their mental health and find and stay in appropriate work. Until employers and UK Government work together to make sure people get the right support - we will continue to see the disability employment gap grow.
“Benefits are a lifeline for people when their mental or physical health prevents them from working. Proper support from the benefits system can help people with mental health problems live independently and take control over their own lives. Currently, the fear of being sanctioned makes us more unwell and puts us further away from getting back into work. Removing sanctions is also a necessary part of making sure Jobcentres' can meet the needs of the people who use them.
“Work coaches should factor in someone’s health condition when they set the activities which they must do to look for work. Too often these tasks which are set are incompletable because of someone's health. This pressure and fear of sanctions can cause unnecessary stress and make someone more unwell. This does nothing to help someone be ready for work.
"The UK Government must guarantee that nobody is at risk of having their benefits cut off, because they are unable to engage with the process in time. Otherwise, there’s a real danger that far too many people will fall through the net when they need it most, causing even more people to be pushed into poverty."Benefits