Changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions from 22 October 2012
The Welfare Reform Act 2012 sets out the Government’s intentions for a stronger and clearer system of conditionality and sanctions. In line with the draft regulations that were set out earlier this year, we are changing the way in which Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) can be affected if claimants do not meet the conditions for receiving it.
What is changing?
The new regulations introduce a regime of fixed period sanctions, which will replace the existing sanction rules and move claimants closer to the sanction regime planned for Universal Credit in 2013. We intend to bring in the new regime from 22 October 2012.
Under the new regime:
- Higher level sanctions (for example for leaving a job voluntarily) will lead to claimants losing all of their JSA for a fixed period of 13 weeks for a first failure, 26 weeks for a second failure and 156 weeks for a third and subsequent failure (within a 52 week period of their last failure).
- Intermediate level sanctions of four weeks for a first failure, rising to 13 weeks for a second or subsequent failures (within a 52 week period of their last failure) may be applied following a period of disallowance for not actively seeking employment or not being available for work.
- Lower level sanctions (for example for failing to attend an adviser interview) will lead to claimants losing all of their JSA for a fixed period of four weeks for the first failure, followed by 13 weeks for subsequent failures (within a 52 week period of their last failure)
More information about the sanction levels:
What happens if a claimant’s JSA is stopped?
If the claimant’s JSA is stopped because they have failed to meet their responsibilities, they must still attend the Jobcentre for their fortnightly jobsearch review, and attend any appointments to avoid losing benefit for a longer period.
They will be entitled to a full explanation of why their benefit was stopped.
They are not automatically entitled to financial help but if they can show that they are suffering hardship, the adviser or hardship officer can explain how they can apply for a hardship payment.
How are we informing claimants?
We will give existing claimants a revised ES40 (Jobseeker’s Allowance – Your responsibilities) and a factsheet telling them about the changes from 22 October 2012.
The factsheet will explain that a change in the law means that although the conditions for receiving benefit are not changing, benefit may be stopped for up to three years if these conditions are not met.