The Department for Works and Pensions’ (DWP) ‘Way to Work’ crackdown on jobseekers has been blasted as vague by peers – who questioned why it was passed as an ’emergency’ law without scrutiny
Image: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A DWP crackdown that will impose more sanctions on jobseekers has been blasted by a key committee.
A new law on February 8, passed without scrutiny or a vote, shortened the length of time before Brits are forced to take a job outside their “preferred sector”.
Jobseekers can now be sanctioned if they refuse to accept a job four weeks after starting their application, instead of three months.
The law was part of a new “Way to Work” target that aims to help 500,000 Universal Credit applicants find work by June.
It was passed as an emergency law – meaning it did not first have to be approved by the regulator of the Social Security Advisory Committee, and there was no vote by MPs.
But the House of Lords Secondary Bills Review Committee said the use of emergency powers to enforce the move was “unwarranted”.
It added the goal was “arbitrary” with “no clear means of measuring success”.
The committee, in a rare move, brought the bill to the Lords’ “special attention” and asked the DWP to report to Parliament on whether it had achieved its objective.
The committee exploded: “Extensive additional evidence still left us with the view that the target is ambitious, its implementation is not fully thought through and the Department’s ability to say whether its target has been met is somewhat uncertain.”
The DWP could not explain how it will achieve the goal or how it will measure it – including whether people who take part-time jobs are still counted as full-time jobs.
The new rules have been branded “ridiculous” because they could force people to make hasty career changes involving commutes of up to three hours a day.
The DWP said an applicant must accept a job offer, even if it’s a 90-minute drive to work, or face sanctions.
SNP MP David Linden said last month: “Norman Tebbit callously told people to get on their bikes to look for work when there was mass unemployment under the Tories in the 1980s.
“This ridiculous rule takes up the Tebbit mantra and forces people to go miles further or face a cut in their services.”
A DWP spokesman previously said the 90-minute rule has not changed with the introduction of Way to Work.
They added, “Work coaches consider a person’s circumstances and abilities when setting commitments to ensure they are realistic and achievable.”
Charities have warned that the “powerful approach” could “generate large amounts of anxiety and stress”.
There are also questions about the exact nature of the target.
Announcing the scheme, Boris Johnson said: “We are launching a plan to get half a million people off welfare into work.”
But despite the Prime Minister’s boast, it’s believed the plan is just to get 500,000 people employed – not by Universal Credit.
Millions of Universal Credit applicants also have jobs, but it doesn’t pay them enough to get them completely off welfare.
Lord Rowlands, a member of the Secondary Legislation Review Committee, said: “We remain unconvinced that emergency legislation was necessary which, as a result, restricted proper parliamentary scrutiny of a measure affecting the rights of hundreds of thousands of applicants.
“We remain concerned that the plan’s implementation failed to take into account regional differences in job vacancies.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/dwps-new-law-force-more-26526196 DWP's new law to impose more social sanctions on Brits is overrun by Watchdog