Chris Hayes, DWP - Homeless Action Scotland

Chris Hayes
Labour Market Analysis and Strategy Division
Our challenge
• There are 2.5 – 3 million new JSA claims and 700,000 ESA new claims
each year.
• We are delivering a system to help support these claimants into work.
• We believe that it is right to expect claimants to do all they reasonably
can in exchange for support:
– Sanctions play a vital role in supporting this system.
– To encourage claimants to comply with the requirements that are
designed to help them move into or prepare for work.
Department for Work & Pensions
Our approach to conditionality
• Our system is flexible and is adapted to meet the needs of the
• We are clear about expectations and to support our approach have
developed the Claimant Commitment:
– A contract between the claimant and the government, agreed
between the claimant and the work coach.
– Tailored to the individual.
– Sets reasonable requirements in accordance with the claimants
circumstances, including adjustments for health conditions and
caring responsibilities.
Department for Work & Pensions
Conditionality regime is effective
• Since 2010 the unemployment has fallen by over half a million.
• Over 60% of new JSA claims end within three months.
• Around 80% of new JSA claims end within six months.
• Sanctions are vital to the success of the conditionality regime and…
• …there is clear evidence that sanctions are effective as a deterrent for
the small minority of claimants who do not comply. Over 70% of
claimants say they are more likely to follow the rules because of
Department for Work & Pensions
We have increased our support – increased sanctions expected…
• Offering more support – investing more resource so claimants are
encouraged to do all that they reasonably can to find work or move into
work – previously claimants were only asked to meet 3 requirements a
• Helping more claimants move closer to work though targeted
employment programmes such as the work programme and other
training schemes.
…however proportion of claimants sanctioned remains low
• The vast majority of claimants do not get sanctioned – in an average
month in 2013 only around 6% of JSA claims were sanctioned and
around 1% of ESA claims.
• Of those who are sanctioned, the majority receive just one sanction
during their claim.
Department for Work & Pensions
There are clear safeguards in place.
• There is a clear process in place so claimants are clear on expectations
and are able to challenge any decisions.
– Reasonable requirements are set, tailored to the claimant.
– Where a sanction referral is made claimants are always given the
opportunity to provide good reason – a sanction will not be
imposed where good reason is provided.
– Cases are examined by an independent decision maker.
– Where the claimant does not agree with the decision they are able to
request a reconsideration and appeal against the decision.
Department for Work & Pensions
Hardship Payments – additional safeguard
• Once sanctioned, claimants can also apply for hardship payments.
• Vulnerable claimants, including any claimant with responsibility for a
child, should receive payments immediately.
• Hardship payments put back into payment 60% of normal JSA in addition
to 100% of any premiums included in the JSA award such as a disability
premium. Seriously ill or pregnant claimants can receive 80%.
• ESA claimants receive 60% of their benefit immediately and retain the
Work Related Activity element.
Department for Work & Pensions
We are making improvements
• We are monitoring the current system and have made improvements to
ensure claimants fully understand what is expected of them and
consequences of failing to meet reasonable requirements.
Some of the improvements that have already been made include:
• Provider Direct
• Claimant Commitment
• New quality assurance framework for Decision Makers
• Claimant Communications Unit
• Accessible guide to sanctions available on
• Since July 2014 no benefit payments should be stopped before a
decision is made - doubt of entitlement cases
• JSA conditionality easement for homeless claimants
Department for Work & Pensions
Oakley Review
• Matthew Oakley’s review will make a significant contribution to our drive
to continually improve the system.
• The scope of Matthew’s review was JSA sanctions for claimants on
Mandatory Back to Work Schemes focusing on clarity of information and
claimant understanding.
• We accept all of the recommendations and have published a
Government Response in July 2014.
Department for Work & Pensions
Oakley Review
We have already implemented a number of the recommendations including:
• A review of all sanctions communications so that we have a better
understanding of what works in driving customer behaviour.
• Tightening of our hardship payment process so that vulnerable
claimants are not left without any funds when sanctioned.
• A commitment to delivering quality and timely decisions around
• Guidance changes so that Housing Benefit is not inadvertently stopped
when a sanctions decision is made.
• Improving claimants understanding of their responsibilities whilst on the
Work Programme including strengthening wording on the Claimant
Commitment and guidance.
Department for Work & Pensions
Universal Credit
• We are further adapting the conditionality regime and sanctions within
Universal Credit:
– UC sanctions regime designed to drive better engagement and
– It is in the gift of the claimant to limit the number of days they are
sanctioned for a low level failure to meet a requirement.
Department for Work & Pensions

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