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Social Security Benefits: Disqualification

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 153979, tabled on 14 April 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answers of 8 February 2022 to Question 117880 and Question 121901, on Social Security Benefits: Disqualification, what assessment she has made of the findings of the implications for her policies of international studies, including those summarised in Griggs and Evans (2010), the National Audit Office’s 2016 report on Benefit sanctions and the written evidence from her Department to the Work and Pension Committee’s inquiry on benefit sanctions in 2018, that, where sanctions prompted people to move into work, the effect could be short-lived and result in lower quality jobs in respect of pay, conditions, duration and sustainability.

Answered on

26 April 2022

No specific assessment has been made. The Department considers all available evidence when making decisions regarding new or existing policies. To ensure sanctions are clear, fair and effective in promoting positive behaviours, we keep the operation of the conditionality and sanctions policies and process under continuous review. We routinely undertake Equality Analyses when developing policies.

These regulations change the amount of time people have to search for jobs in their preferred sector, which is known as the permitted period. The permitted period is available at the discretion of a Work Coach and only claimants with substantial experience in a certain sector or occupation, or at a level of remuneration are eligible. If, after 4 weeks, claimants granted a permitted period refuse to widen their job search and apply for roles, attend interviews or take up paid work outside of their preferred sector without good reason, then they may be referred for a sanction. A sanction is only ever applied if claimants fail, without good reason, to meet their agreed conditionality requirements.

We have a well-established system of hardship payments, available as a safeguard if a claimant demonstrates that they cannot meet their immediate and most essential needs, including accommodation, heating, food and hygiene.