New rules which will require universal credit claimants to broaden their job searches much more quickly have been introduced.
According to new rules drawn up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), thousands of claimants will have less time to find a role in their preferred sector before having to widen the scope of their search, Birmingham Live reports.
The Way to Work initiative came into effect on January 27 as part of a new UK government target to move half a million people into jobs by the end of June.
Under the rules, people who previously had three months to find employment in their preferred sector will have just four weeks before then having to look at other types of jobs.
This has meant officials have also revised their guidance on assessments for those who say they’re too ill to get a job. In some cases, medical checks will be carried out as soon as they make a claim for the benefit.
The issue affects those who say they have a physical or mental health condition or disability when they put in a claim for universal credit.
In updated guidance released on January 27, the DWP said: “When you make a claim for universal credit you will be asked if you have either a health condition or a disability which prevents or limits your ability to work. If you answer yes, you may be asked to attend a work capability assessment (WCA).
“In most circumstances, if you remain unable to work due to your health conditions for four weeks, you will be referred for a WCA on the 29th day of your claim.”
But you can now be assessed as soon as you apply for the benefit, the DWP said.
It explained: “You may be referred for a WCA on the first day of your claim when one of the following applies:
you are terminally ill
you are pregnant and there is a serious risk of damage to your health, or to the health of your unborn child if you do not refrain from work or work-related activity
you are receiving or are about to receive treatment for cancer by way of chemotherapy or radiotherapy – or you are recovering from such treatment
you are in hospital or similar institution for 24 hours or longer
you are prevented from working by law
you are receiving treatment such as dialysis, plasmapheresis or total parenteral nutrition for gross impairment of enteric function or are recovering after receiving one of these types of treatment
This suggests that claimants in these particular circumstances would not then be pressured to find a job before the DWP’s new four-week Way to Work deadline.
The DWP said an assessment of a person’s health can be held in person, by video call, or on the phone. Claimants may ask for their appointment to be recorded.
While a decision is being made on a person’s ability to work, they get the standard allowance of universal credit, if making a new claim. If the assessment was triggered by a change of circumstances, a claimant will receive the same amount as before in the interim period until a decision is announced.
Based on the outcome of the assessment, an individual is deemed to be either:
- fit for work
- limited capability for work – this means you cannot work now, but can prepare to go back to work in the future, for example by writing a CV
- limited capability for work and work-related activity – you cannot work now and you’re not expected to prepare for work in the future
If you’re found to be fit for work, you then have to look for a job that suits your health condition. If you have limited capability for work, your work coach will discuss your situation and set out a series of steps to help you start preparing for work.
If your condition or disability is serious enough that you are deemed to have limited capability for work and work-related activity, you will get an extra £343.63 in universal credit payments.
You can find out more about the latest universal credit health and disability guidance here.
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