Homelessness and mental health conditions to be supported by hardship fund

Jobseekers who are homeless or suffering from a mental health condition will now be able to access hardship payments immediately after a benefit sanction.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green has announced that jobseekers who are homeless or suffer from a mental health condition will now be able to access hardship payments immediately if they receive a benefit sanction.

Department for Work and Pensions

Although the majority of jobseekers do everything expected of them, sanctions are a necessary and long-standing part of the welfare system. They ensure that those who are able to get into the workplace are making every effort to get into the workplace, and that appropriate action is taken otherwise.

Hardship payments act as a safety net to cover day-to-day living costs, and are issued immediately to individuals who are sanctioned and meet certain criteria like having children, or a long-term health condition. Other jobseekers cannot claim payments for the first 14 days of a sanction.

The criteria will now extend immediate access to homeless people and individuals with a mental health condition.

The change is expected to help around 10,000 people over 4 years from 2017/18 to 2020.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said:

Sanctions are an important part of the benefits system, but it’s right that people with mental health conditions as well as those who are homeless have immediate access to hardship payments should they need it.

We want our jobseekers to focus on getting into work and enjoying the dignity and security of a good job.

Our plan to help the most vulnerable into work is a key step towards building a great meritocracy where all that matters is the talent you have and how hard you are prepared to work.

Benefit sanctions are only used in a very small percentage of cases, and the number of sanctions has fallen substantially in the last year. On average in each month during this time, more than 96% of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants were not sanctioned.

This news follows on from the launch of the Work, health and disability: improving lives green paper earlier this month to help more people with long term conditions reap the benefits of work and improve their health, as part of the government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap.

The Care and Support Alliance’s response to the Government’s Autumn Statement 2016

Vicky McDermott, Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said:

“Ignoring the social care crisis is deeply irresponsible. The sector couldn’t be clearer on how dire the situation is for social care and those that rely on it.

“The opportunity to address the financial black hole in social care in his first set piece statement was an opportunity missed by the Chancellor. He set out the priorities for this Government and talked up the country’s strong economy but by failing to mention social care he showed that having a strong economy does not include protecting some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Care and Support Alliance

“For anyone who personally knows about the struggle of not getting the care they need, paying more for care, or having to stay in hospital because care is not available, will be shocked that this Government has failed to address the social care crisis. Ever shrinking provision is leaving people without the care they need to get dressed, eat or leave the house in every region of our country.

“Despite more people needing care, investment has shrunk by a third in just five years (1). It has resulted in unnecessary pressure on the NHS, with delayed discharge reaching record highs.

“The Chancellor’s decision to omit social care from his Autumn statement suggests he has yet to grasp the enormity of the challenge before the country.”