To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to paragraph 12 of Benefit Sanctions: Government response to the Work and Pensions Committee’s Nineteenth Report of Session 2017-19, if she will provide details of the external evidence on the impact of sanctions on claimants' health, finances and wellbeing of claimants her Department took into account prior to the introduction of The Universal Credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance (Work Search and Work Availability Requirements - limitations) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.
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.