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Housing Benefit Will Be Sanctioned For Part Time Workers Under UC

February 27, 2014

Thank goodness, this will only apply to those not eligible for ESA.

However it could still affect many disabled people. Some disabled people are not able to work full time, but are able to work part time if suitable work becomes available.

The fear that their housing benefit could be sanctioned if they do not ‘try hard enough’ to look for full time work will cause extremely high levels of stress, particularly because they genuinely cannot do full time work and will never be able to.

It may even discourage disabled people who are able to do part time work from applying for any. They may choose instead to do no work and claim ESA or JSA as these benefits are not affected by this rule. Wouldn’t that go against everything the Government says they are trying to do?

Part-time workers judged to be doing too little to find full-time work face having their benefit for housing costs sanctioned by the government for the first time under universal credit.

Under the present system housing benefit is paid direct to landlords and sanctions can only be applied to out-of-work benefits, such as jobseeker’s allowance or employment support allowance.

Landlords, already concerned by the prospect of universal credit being paid directly to tenants, have been lobbying the government to exempt the housing element of the single payment from sanctions in all circumstances.

However, the Department for Work and Pensions has confirmed to Inside Housing that under the government’s flagship welfare reform, where a tenant is working less than 35 hours a week at minimum wage and is not eligible for JSA or ESA, the housing element can be sanctioned instead.

Landlords are concerned that by extending ‘in-work conditionality’ to the housing element, if the DWP deems claimants to not be doing enough to find full-time employment and applies sanctions, rent arrears could increase.

Sue Ramsden, head of policy for neighbourhoods at the National Housing Federation, said that until now, it has been unclear whether the DWP would allow housing costs to be exempt. ‘We are pressing for DWP staff to have regard for the need for an alternative payment arrangement to be put in place at the same time that the sanction is imposed,’ she said.

Sam Lister, policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said there was concern about the effect of sanctions on arrears at a time when the housing benefit caseload for in-work claimants continued to rise, but much depended on how the policy was implemented. He added: ‘It will depend on the instructions given to DWP administrators about how strictly the sanctions are implemented in the case of part-time workers who are in receipt of benefit as a contribution to housing costs.’

No research has been carried out on the impact sanctions could have on arrears. More than 1 million people are currently in work but reliant on housing benefit to meet their housing costs, up from 691,000 in 2010.

A DWP spokesperson said: ‘It is only right that people claiming benefits should be aware that not sticking to the rules can have a consequence. Any reductions to benefits as a result of a sanction are applied to the universal credit benefit as a whole rather than a particular element of it.’

2 Comments leave one →
  1. marie karim permalink
    February 27, 2015 11:16 pm

    Many disabled people find it difficult to get employment – particularly for people within the autistic spectrum – although I know other disabled people face similar issues Many can only cope only with part time work. there is also the worry that DLA PIP assessment where the ability to maintain work could be used as a reason for denying PIP. My daughter took 3 years to get a part time job in Local government – with help from a Charity Recruitment company. She applied for an incredible number of jobs and did voluntary work to get experience but like most people with Aspergers she found interviews difficult. What it God’s name does IDS. think people in her position can do more than they do.

  2. February 28, 2015 4:34 am

    Reblogged this on lawrencerowntree.

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