Universal Credit applicants must work longer hours or meet with their work coach under new rules
Universal Credit beneficiaries will soon have to work longer hours or attend meetings with “work coaches” to continue receiving payments, new rules say.
According to the current system, anyone who receives benefits and works at least nine hours does not have to appear at the job center for regular appointments.
But that will soon increase to 12 hours, according to comments from Labor and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey.
What did Therese Coffey say?
In conversation with the telegraphMs Coffey said the change would come “very soon”, although she didn’t give a specific date.
She said: “Once you get a job, if you’re working less than nine hours a week, we still expect you to come looking for work.
“I hope we’ll address that very soon.”
Ms Coffey believes that “we can go even further in the second phase of the changes” if the Treasury Department paid more labor coaches.
Ministers have also spoken of raising the working time limit for benefit recipients to at least 12 hours to avoid appointments with ‘work coaches’.
Universal Credit is a benefit claimed by nearly six million people in the UK, and payments are often reduced or stopped altogether when applicants fail to show up for meetings.
Why is the change being made?
Ms Coffey’s confirmation of the change is part of the Government’s effort to fill vacancies and reduce the number of people on unemployment benefits.
The move comes as the UK reports high job vacancies, which rose to a record 1.3 million vacancies in May. That was an increase of 20,000 from the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, the number of unemployment benefit recipients reached 5.3 million in November last year.
Ms Coffey countered claims that working 12 hours a week should not be enough to relieve applicants of the responsibility of finding more work and expressed her desire to “move forward with the first part”.
She said: “That alone would bring in about 120,000 people [into the work coach system]. If we could start and bring that in somehow, that would be a good place to start.