Jobseekers given less time to find preferred work

Jobseekers on Universal Credit will have just four weeks before they have to widen their search outside their sector, under new Government plans.

Rising Costs


People on Universal Credit will have just four weeks to find their preferred job rather than three months under changes being introduced by the Government.

Its new ‘Way to Work’ campaign people who are capable of work will be expected to search more widely for available jobs from the fourth week of their claim, rather than from three months as is currently the case. This will be part of their requirements for receiving their benefit payment. Those who do not engage will face benefits sanctions.

The Government says the aim is to get more people off Universal Credit at a time of widepread job vacancies in some sectors. Jobseekers will get more face to face time with a Work Coach, which the Government says will give them access to better, tailored support.

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: ” As we emerge from COVID, we are going to tackle supply challenges and support the continued economic recovery by getting people into work. Our new approach will help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs.”

Women’s campaigners expressed concerns about the lack of mention of digital inclusion policies or childcare. The Young Women’s Trust said: “Young women have been telling us how they’re often told by Work Coaches to just get “any job” and the impact this is having on their mental health and self-esteem. Young women want to be supported into careers that they are interested in and can progress in, rather than being in a cycle of jobs that lead them back onto Universal Credit.

While there is a record number of vacancies at the moment, these are often inaccessible and inflexible for young women and their needs. 1/3 of young women don’t think that the benefits system takes their individual circumstances into account. At a time of rising living costs, this is the worst possible time to be punishing those out of work.”

Employment experts highlighted the lack of any support for upskilling people. David Hughes, CEO of the Association of Colleges, said: “We know that skills support is vital for many to find decent, sustained work. The trouble is that the focus on ‘any job’ after four weeks will make it even harder for people to get the new skills they and the labour market need.”

Tony Wilson of the Institute for Employment Studies said statistics show very few people are only on benefits for three months or less, meaning that the change of policy will do little to get people into work. “The idea that getting new claimants to search harder will make any difference at all – let alone get millions into work – is complete nonsense,” he stated. He added: “A message – even if it’s just the rhetoric rather than reality – that jobseekers are being forced to apply for any job anywhere will drive employers even further away from JobCentre Plus, at exactly the time that they need the most help filling jobs.”


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