Assurances that part-time low-paid workers will not be made to look for higher paid jobs or forced to increase their hours as they are moved across onto universal credit has been welcomed by UNISON today (Thursday).
UNISON had been concerned that as people were transferred across to universal credit anyone earning less than 35 times the national minimum wage would have been made to find a job on better pay or take on more hours.
Earlier today, in response to a question from Ruth George MP at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, the director general of universal credit Neil Couling confirmed an assurance previously given to UNISON that anyone earning less than £274.05 a week will now not be subject to ‘in-work conditionality’.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had said that when universal credit was fully rolled out up to one million families could be subject to ‘in work conditionality’.
The assurance that it will not be introduced at least for some time after the new benefit is fully operational means that low-paid, part-time workers, many of them women, won’t face the risk of sanctions for failing to increase their hours or to find another job on better pay, says UNISON.
Welcoming the announcement UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “We’re glad this threat has been lifted, at least for now. It’s a sensible move.
“It’s been a major concern that part-time employees on low incomes and people with disabilities could have faced having to disrupt their already challenging lives to look for extra hours or a different job – even when they were perfectly happy.
“UNISON told the government that the DWP was not ready to start moving people across to universal credit. Too many problems existed and it looks as if some heed has been taken of those warnings in the announcement earlier this week to delay the start by six months.
“Obviously people need support to progress in their careers, gain more skills and achieve a better work life balance but the threat of sanctions is not the way to do it.
“Now the Chancellor must come up with the resources in the Budget to make sure that people who move to universal credit don’t end up being worse off.”
Notes to editors:
– The in-work conditionality clause requires employees to look for extra hours or a different job. This is if they earn less than £274.05 – 35 times the national minimum wage, which is currently £7.83 an hour.