Universal Credit: Change in job hunting rule set to affect around 114,000 | Personal Finance | Finance

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is to be bringing in new rules which will see Universal Credit claimants with no earnings or earnings below the Administration Earnings Threshold (AET) be put in the Intensive Work Search regime. The Administration Earnings Threshold is set to rise next month from £355 to £494 a month for single claimants. For couples, it is to increase from £567 to £782.

DWP guidance said: “Since its introduction in 2013, the AET has not kept pace with the increases in the National Living Wage, with the result that the number of hours needed to work to earn the AET has fallen over time.

“The adjustment will bring the AET back to its original parity with the National Living Wage.”

The Government estimate that the change is to move around 114,000 claimants who are currently in the Light Touch regime across to the Intensive Work Search regime.

A Government document on the regime read: “For claimants who are able to work, our aim is to encourage them to undertake as much work, and earn as much, as they reasonably can do as quickly as possible.”

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People in the Intensive Work Search regime will have to attend mandatory face-to-face work search reviews at their local job centre.

Claimants will have these meetings either weekly or fortnightly.

These will take place for the first 13 weeks and will also include people with health conditions that do not affect their ability to work.

Claimants will also have to provide evidence of “work searches” and “work preparation activities” in their reviews.


Claimants could also be asked to go to skills assessments, develop a business plan or research childcare costs.

The Government document states that if a claimant fails to meet their requirements “without good reason” a sanction will apply.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Therese Coffey recently spoke to the Sunday Telegraph about the tightening of the rules for benefit claimants.

Ms Coffey explained: “Once you get a job, if you’re working fewer than the equivalent of nine hours a week, we still expect you to be coming in and looking for work.

“We’re going to be raising that, I hope, very soon. We just want to help people get on into work. So that’s really important.”

In the interview, she said that the threshold could eventually be raised even further, but that would require the employment of more job advisers or work coaches.

She said: “We’re still working through that, I think there’s an opportunity to do more. So there’s a decision to be taken and I believe we can go further than that.”

A key change to the DWP policy in January saw a reduction in the time given to jobseekers to find a position in their chosen/desired field.

Coming into force in February, claimants have now just four weeks to find a position compared to the three months that they had before.

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