Laura Sharman 27 January 2022

Benefit reforms could lead to 'poorer health' campaigners warn

Benefit reforms could lead to poorer health campaigners warn image
Image: Willy Barton / Shutterstock.com

Plans to reform Universal Credit to move half a million people into jobs by the end of June could lead to poorer health, a charity has warned.

Under the measures, claimants now only have one month to find a job in their preferred sector before facing the prospect of sanctions.

The Way to Work campaign will require people to look for work in another sector after one month rather than three months in order to continue receiving their benefit payment.

However, the Health Foundation warned the move could force people into low quality jobs and lead to poorer health.

Assistant director for healthy lives, David Finch, said: at the Health Foundation, said: 'Research has shown that benefit sanctions are associated with higher levels of anxiety and stress, directly harming health as well as risking health by cutting incomes.

'The new measures may help unemployed people to look for a wider range of jobs sooner, but they also need support to retrain and time to find good quality work. Given the risks to people’s health from low quality jobs, and the higher likelihood of unemployed people having poor mental health, pushing them quickly into a low-quality roles is not something government policy should be encouraging.'

Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said: 'Way to Work is a step change in our offer to claimants and employers, making sure our jobcentre network and excellent Work Coaches can deliver opportunities, jobs and prosperity to all areas of the country.

'As we emerge from COVID, we are going to tackle supply challenges and support the continued economic recovery by getting people into work. Our new approach will help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs.'

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