DWP Universal Credit benefit crackdown – key points and how new rules could affect you

Universal Credit claimants could face tougher sanctions if they fail to look for jobs under new measures planned by the Government.

At the moment, job seekers can have their benefit payments reduced or cut entirely if they do not meet requirements to look for work and other activities set out by the Jobcentre. But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled new proposals on Thursday as part of the Government’s Back to Work Plan, which could affect claimants more.

It means the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be able to come down harder on those who are fit for work but not looking for employment. The plans are part of aims to get 1.1 million people back into the workforce, but are still subject to Parliamentary approval, reports The Mirror.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “Our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.” So what are the new plans and how will they affect benefit claimants? Here are the key points you need to know.

Universal Credit claim reviewed after 18 months

Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for longer than 18 months will have their claims reviewed and a work coach will decide what further work search conditions they will have to undertake. If a claimant refuses to accept these new conditions without good reason, their Universal Credit claim will be closed.

Work experience for long-term unemployed

Universal Credit claimants who are unemployed for longer than 18 months will be required to accept a job or undertake work experience. Those who refuse will face sanctions and may have their benefits stopped.

No access to free NHS prescriptions or legal aid

Universal Credit claimants getting only the standard allowance who have been sanctioned for more than six months will have their claims closed. They would lose their access to free prescriptions and legal aid, unless they reapply for their benefits.

Attendance at job fairs and interviews will be tracked

Digital tools will be used to “track” attendance at job fairs and interviews. This means the Government will be checking if job seekers are sticking to their commitments.

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