UNIVERSAL Credit claimants will have to work longer hours or meet with their work coach under new rules revealed today.
Currently anyone on the benefit and working nine hours or more does not need to attend regular appointments at the Job Centre.
But that is set to rise to 12 hours, the government has confirmed, in the latest change to Universal Credit rules.
Work and pensions minister Therese Coffey said in an interview with the Telegraph the change will come in “soon” – but stopped short of setting a date.
She said: “Once you get a job, if you’re working fewer than the equivalent of nine hours a week, we still expect you to be coming in and looking for work.
“We’re going to be raising that, I hope, very soon.”
And the MP in charge of the benefits system also hinted the number of hours could rise further than that in future too, if there are enough work coaches.
The rule change means more people will have to meet with their work coach – unless they increase their working hours.
Universal Credit can be claimed if you’re in work and on a low income and around 2.3 million people on the benefit have a job.
Payments can be cut or stopped altogether for failing to turn up to meetings.
If you repeatedly miss meetings the sanctions may be stricter and last longer.
Sanctions are when claimants can lose some or all of their benefits if they don’t follow the rules set out in their claimants commitment, but the most severe consequences are for repeat offenders.
Payments can be slashed for a number of reasons, like turning down a job offer or failing to update information like moving house or how many hours you work.
The exact terms of looking for work or increasing hours depends on your circumstances and is detailed in your claimant commitment.
This is a document where you agree to certain terms when making a claim for Universal Credit.
For instance those looking after children or with caring responsibilities are not expected to have to work, or look for work, for as many hours.
It’s the latest change to Universal Credit rules made by the government as it aims to fill a record number of job vacancies.
Under tougher rules introduced in February there are now stricter penalties if you don’t accept a job offer.
The length of time people will be given to accept a job offer is being slashed.
Previously benefits claimants could spend three months specifically trying to get a role that they have previous experience for.
But now that’s been slashed to just four weeks, after which time Brits are expected to accept alternative offers of employment.
It comes as Ms Coffey revealed nearly half a million job-hunters have been taken off benefits and into work in less than six months.
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