Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Government eases sanctions for homeless people

Homeless people have been granted new exemptions from benefit sanctions under regulations laid before parliament today.

Under the new rules, Job Centre Plus advisors will be given the discretionary power to exempt rough sleepers and those in supported accommodation from looking for work.

It comes after a report by Homeless Link in September found that 31 per cent of homeless people on jobseekers’ allowance benefits have been sanctioned, compared to 5.5 per cent of the typical claimant population.

Homeless claimants found to be in a ‘domestic emergency’, will not be required to be available for work, actively seeking work or participating in the Work Programme, under the regulations.

The measure, which is expected to exempt homeless claimants for up to four weeks, will come into effect on 21 July.

However, claimants will have to prove they are taking reasonable action to find accommodation.

Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy and communications for Homeless Link, welcomed the move and said progress had been made on getting a fairer deal for homeless people seeking work.

‘[The new regulations] recognise additional needs and barriers homeless people face and the importance of easing the pressure people face when trying to find a suitable place to live,’ she said.

Kyla Kirkpatrick, St Mungo’s Broadway’s director of work, skills and advice, said: ‘We know from talking to our clients that the majority want to work but being homeless is an obstacle to job-hunting.

‘These changes could help temporarily ease the pressure to find a home and a job at the same time for people who are often struggling with health problems and a lack of basic skills, as well as homelessness.’

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