Working people face sanctions under Universal Credit scheme coming soon
Jackie Baillie MSP at a recent Jobs Fair in Dumbarton where people are told about work opportunities available to them.
New figures reveal that four in ten working people on benefits are being told to seek more work under Universal Credit.
Across Scotland, more than 107,000 people are now on Universal Credit with the new system being rolled out in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute this autumn.
Around 37,000 people on Universal Credit are in work, with 14,000 people working ‘with requirements’ meaning that the person is making less than the equivalent of the national minimum wage at full time hours each week.
The rules around Universal Credit mean people are forced to increase their income, either with a second job, more hours or a higher paid job, or face cuts to their benefit.
Scottish Labour has said that the system is flawed with 10 percent of Scots on Universal Credit and in work facing sanctions.
MSP Jackie Baillie said: “Universal Credit will be rolled out across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute this autumn and the nationwide trend is likely to be bad news for working people in our community.
“The system is clearly not fit for purpose with people in work facing sanctions under the scheme just because they aren’t earning enough.
“Working people are paying the price for an economy which is broken that sees wages stagnant, a huge number of zero hours’ contracts and a soaring cost of living.
“The Tories must pause and fix this benefits system before they push people deeper into poverty.”
Figures released this week show that over 100,000 people in Scotland are now on universal credit, 37,000 of whom are working. Of those 37,000, 14,051 are defined as working ‘with requirements’.
This means everyone who receives Universal Credit is placed in a conditionality group based on their circumstances and work capability.
Those subject to “in-work conditionality” face conditionality requirements even though they are in work, depending on how much they earn and whether their wages are over their earnings threshold.
A single person earning less than £338 per month, or a couple earning less than £541 per month, will be subject to all work-related requirements including looking for full-time work of 35 hours a week.
A single person earning less than their “earnings threshold” but more than £338 per month, and a couple earning less than their “earning threshold” but more than £541 per month, does not have to look for work but is expected to take up more work, do the things the DWP asks and go to work-focused interviews.
A DWP spokesperson said: ““You should think of job-seeking as a full-time job. You will be expected to look or prepare for work for 35 hours a week, depending on your circumstances.
“The Claimant Commitment will clearly state what will happen if you fail to meet each of your responsibilities. You will have a cut in your benefit, known as a sanction, if you fail to meet one of your responsibilities and can’t give a good reason to explain why.
“Depending on what you failed to do and how many times you have failed to meet your responsibilities, a sanction can last for up to three years.”