Over 120,000 part time workers could lose benefits unless they work more hours

·4-min read
Over 120,000 part time workers could lose benefits unless they work more hours
Over 120,000 part time workers could lose benefits unless they work more hours

OVER 100,000 part time workers could lose their benefits if they do not agree to work more hours.

Details of the reform to Universal Credit are set to be unveiled in Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget tomorrow.

The Scottish Greens described the policy as a “despicable and needless act of cruelty against low paid and vulnerable people.”

However, the Chancellor said it was a “win-win” and would help “grow the economy and raise living standards for all.”

The change should mean that around 120,000 people claiming Universal Credit will need to have more meetings with Jobcentre work coaches and increase their search for work or take on more hours.

It impacts something known as the Administration Earnings Threshold which determines whether a claimant is in the "light touch" regime or the "intensive work search" regime.

Currently, if you work more than nine hours a week, then you do not need to search for more work.

That is due to increase to 12 hours or more from next week.

But under the new plans, it will increase to 15 hours at the start of 2023.

Those in the intensive work search need to meet regularly with their work coach and actively search for jobs, take interviews, and accept offers of work or risk losing their entitlement to Universal Credit.

Mr Kwarteng is also set to announce support for over-50s to get back to work following a significant drop in numbers following the pandemic.

If economic activity among over-50s returns to previous levels, the government estimates it could increase GDP by one percentage point, or £29billion.

The Chancellor said although unemployment is at its lowest rate since the early 1970s, the high number of vacancies is "limiting economic growth".

“Our jobs market is remarkably resilient, but it is not perfect,” Mr Kwarteng said.

“While unemployment is at is at its lowest rate for nearly 50 years, the high number of vacancies that still exist and inactivity in the labour market is limiting economic growth.

“These gradual changes focus on getting people back into work and maximising the hours people take on to help grow the economy and raise living standards for all. It boosts incomes for families and helps businesses get the domestic workers they need, all while supporting economic growth.”

He added: "We must get Britain working again. These gradual changes focus on getting people back into work and maximising the hours that people take on to help grow the economy and raise living standards for all.

"It's a win-win. It boosts incomes for families and helps businesses get the domestic workers they need, all while supporting economic growth."

The move was condemned by Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister's Questions.

She compared it to plans to axe the cap on bankers' bonuses, expected to be announced by the Chancellor in tomorrow's mini-budget.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the Scottish government used their powers and resources to "try to lift people out of poverty" while "the UK Government takes actions that push people into poverty."

She added: "That is not a sustainable, sensible or morally defensible position.

"The UK Government now seems to want to increase the bonuses that are paid to bankers, while further eroding the incomes of those who are on universal credit. That is utterly indefensible.

"We are showing what we can do with the limited welfare powers that we have—the Scottish child payment is the leading example of that.

"As long as so many such powers and levers lie with a UK Government that is acting in the way that this one is, our efforts will continue to be undermined. That is why it is so important that we get all such powers into this Parliament’s hands as soon as possible."

Scottish Greens social security spokesperson, Maggie Chapman said: "I truly hope that these reports are wrong. Even by the standards of the Tories this would be a despicable and needless act of cruelty against low paid and vulnerable people.

She added: "Prices and bills are soaring, but wages are flat lining or worse. The Tories have proven that they cannot be trusted with our economy. It is not workers who have fuelled this crisis, it is Downing Street and their millionaire pals."