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Jobseekers who repeatedly refuse to take up job
offers or leave work with a good reason face losing
benefits for three years under tough new rules introduced by the
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today.
This dramatically increases the amount of time by which
Jobseeker's Allowance can be cut. It does not
affect other payments, such as Housing Benefit.
Currently, jobseekers who break the most important rules, such
as refusing to accept a reasonable job offer, can be subject to
sanctions for between one week and six months. But the wide
range means that some claimants do not have a clear understanding
of the consequences of refusing to comply with the rules.
The Government says that the new sanctions regime introduced
today will be clearer and more robust, and substantially aligns the
current system with the rules which will be in force when Universal Credit is introduced.
There will be three levels of sanctions, ranging from four
weeks for a minor offence to three years for serious repeat
offenders. The new regime is tougher but fairer - and the
rules will be clearly explained to all claimants from day one so
that they are in no doubt that if they do not comply they will not
get their benefit.
Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:
"Choosing a life on benefits when you're able to work is not an
"These rules send out a clear message to jobseekers. We will
offer them the support they need to find work, but in return for
receiving benefits they have responsibilities too. People cannot
expect to keep their benefits if they do not hold up their end of
An article in the Guardian today says that these tougher
measures "are likely to raise concerns about how well sometimes
vulnerable people are advised about their choices and who makes
decisions about whether a claimant is "unreasonable" to refuse a
job offer or has left a job "without good reason". And a
new report by Citizens Advice Scotland published last week,
reveals the extreme hardship some Scots are experiencing as a
result of "a harsh new clampdown on jobseekers".
Department for Work and Pensions (link opens in a new window),
Guardian (link opens in a new window), and Citizens
Advice Scotland (link opens in a new window).
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