Almost 1.2 million low-paid workers entitled to support under Universal Credit will have to look for extra work or face the risk of having payments withdrawn, a study by the Resolution Foundation finds. A new regime will require the lowest paid to show that they are unable to push up their wages any further.
Under Universal Credit conditions will be set on payments to many working claimants who earn less than the weekly equivalent of the minimum wage. They will be expected to demonstrate that they are making every effort to rise above this earnings threshold, by finding better-paid work, increasing their hours or taking on an extra job. It is the first time that this ‘conditionality’, already applied to claimants of unemployment benefit, has been extended to include people who are in work. The type of checks and the sanctions taken against people who fail to meet the conditions are still unknown.
‘Conditions Uncertain’, suggests that this aspect of Universal Credit could pose a major new challenge to Jobcentre Plus. It represents a large expansion of the existing caseload for advisers who already handle more than 1.5 million unemployed people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance. Jobcentre Plus was recently the focus of a Policy Exchange report, which recommended that the government should withdraw benefits from part time and temporary workers who are not doing all they can to find a higher paid or full time job, suggesting that we should expect more from those claiming benefits.