Government Press Release on the Work Programme and Benefit Sanctions

Here is the press release issued on about the changes to the Work Programme and what will happen if people do not comply with the new regime. 

Work Programme leavers targeted by specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.

Work Programme leavers will be targeted by a hit squad of specialist advisers as part of a tough approach to get them into a job.

Up to 5 specialist advisers will be based in individual Jobcentres dedicated to working with people not in sustained work after 2 years on the Work Programme.

Claimants will be given an end-of-term report from their Work Programme provider assessing what progress they have made and their ongoing needs, to inform their new adviser before facing the toughest Jobcentre regime to help them find work. At their first appointment they will have to agree a binding back-to-work plan laying out what they are required to do.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said:

The Work Programme is getting some of the hardest to help claimants into work despite a tough economic climate.

We always knew that there would be some who would require further support after the Work Programme, which is why we’re introducing this intensive and uncompromising regime.

We’ll be stepping up the pressure on claimants, who will be expected to attend the Jobcentre more frequently, with rigorous monitoring to ensure they are doing everything they can to find work.

Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, Mandatory Work Activity placement or intensive work preparation within days of finishing on the Work Programme – losing their benefit if they fail to comply. An extra £30m will be available to pay for extra training and specialist help to prepare them for work, for instance counselling for people dependent on drug and alcohol.

Claimants will also have to attend the Jobcentre far more frequently than other jobseekers, with weekly signing on being routine and some people being required to meet their adviser every day.

The advisers, who will be focused on working with those returning from the Work Programme, will take a tough approach to monitoring whether claimants are sticking to their plan with anyone failing to participate losing their benefits.

The programme comes after Jobcentres involved in a trailblazer found that claimants targeted by an intensive approach were much less likely to stay on benefit.

Every Work Programme returner will also be required to register with Universal Jobmatch to aid work search and job matching. This will allow their adviser to check their work search activity online should the claimant give permission.

The tough sanctions regime will see anyone failing to comply with mandatory activity lose benefit for 4 weeks for a first failure, with penalties of up to 3 years for serial offenders.

The intensive support will last for 6 months, and will be used for all Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants returning from the Work Programme who need more intensive support.

The Work Programme

The Work Programme was launched in June 2011 and is aimed at those at risk of long-term unemployment. Providers are paid according to results to get people into work, with extra incentives to support the hardest to help.

The Work Programme has already helped more than 207,000 people off benefits and into a job.

Our research report on the Jobcentre Trailblazer includes evidence of positive impacts on a range of employability factors, and statistics published alongside the report show evidence of a positive effect on off-flows of 5 to 7 percentage points compared to the control group of Jobcentre Plus Offer.

New sanctions regime

The new sanctions regime referred to above came into force on Monday 22 October 2012. Under the new regime there are 3 levels of sanctions:

  • low
  • intermediate
  • high

Low level

Low level sanctions are for failures to undertake specific action as required by a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The sanction for such failures will be one month for a first and 3 months for second and subsequent failures‪.

Intermediate level

Intermediate level sanctions are for failures to actively seek and be available for work. This leads to disentitlement; if the individual makes a new claim then no benefit is payable for up to one month for a first such failure, and 3 months for second and subsequent failures.

Highest level

Highest level sanctions are for failures to comply with the most important job seeking requirements, such as refusing to accept a reasonable job offer, or leaving employment voluntarily without good reason.

Currently claimants face a sanction of anywhere between 1 week and 6 months. The revised sanctions will be for a fixed period that will increase for those who have a history of failing to meet their requirements: 3 months for a first failure, rising to 6 months for a second failure (within a year of the previous failure), and 3 years for a third sanction.

More information

Other information about the Work Programme includes:


One comment on “Government Press Release on the Work Programme and Benefit Sanctions

  1. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but
    I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.

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