Is in-work conditionality working? The impact of changing conditionality requirements on in-work Universal Credit claimants
The government has introduced a succession of changes that require people on Universal Credit and in work to increase their earnings, with further changes expected to be announced at the spring budget. People have to meet more often with their work coach and undertake activities intended to increase their earnings. If they don’t do the actions asked of them, then they risk being sanctioned.
Our data and our advisers tell us that too many people are being set tasks that are inappropriate and growing numbers are coming to us for help with conditionality and the sanctions that go with it.
In the short term, two simple changes would make a big difference:
Improved work coach training to ensure better understanding of each individual’s support and communication needs.
Replacing the first sanction with a yellow-card; a formal warning but no removal of benefit. This would be more aligned with the proposed close working relationship, based on trust, between work coach and claimant.
In the longer term it’s time for a fresh start. The DWP’s own evidence has shown that increasing in-work conditionality has minimal impact on earnings; it’s time to rethink how people are supported to progress in work.