Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Benefit Clampdown
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is leading a major clampdown on benefit claimants who, after being deemed fit to work, refuse to seek employment.
The measures include potential loss of benefits after as little as six months, impacting free prescriptions, dental treatment, and public transport assistance.
Government’s £2.5 Billion Back-to-Work Plan
Part of the Government’s £2.5 billion back-to-work plan, the reforms aim to address the growing number of people on long-term sick leave.
The comprehensive plan, unveiled ahead of the autumn statement, targets up to 1,100,000 individuals, including those with long-term health conditions, disabilities, and the long-term unemployed.
Stricter Sanctions for Non-Compliance
The plan sets a limit of 18 months for claimants to receive full benefits if they do not take reasonable steps to comply with Jobcentre support.
Stricter sanctions may be applied, leading to the closure of claims for individuals on extended sanctions for over six months, resulting in the loss of additional benefits.
Expanded Support for Health Conditions and Employment
Ministers also announced an expansion of support for people with health conditions to find and maintain employment. Initiatives include increasing the number of people receiving NHS talking therapy and adding 100,000 individuals to the Individual Placement and Support scheme.
Universal Support and Toughened Sanctions
The Universal Support program in England and Wales aims to match 100,000 people annually with existing job vacancies.
Toughened sanctions will be implemented, including mandatory work placement trials and immediate sanctions for those who fail to accept jobs or work experiences.
Reform of the ‘Fit Note’ System
The plan includes exploring the reform of the ‘fit note’ system, with ‘trailblazer trials’ offering better triage and support for individuals with prolonged fit notes.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride emphasized that while certain schemes would expand, toughened sanctions await those attempting to take taxpayers for a ride.
Digital Tracking and Clear Message
The Universal Credit service will introduce a new function enabling digital tracking of claimants’ attendance at interviews and fairs. The clear message from Mr. Stride is that if individuals are fit and refuse to work, taking taxpayers for granted, their benefits will be withdrawn.
Chancellor’s Broader Economic Plans
The announcement is part of broader plans to grow the economy, expected to be outlined in the autumn statement.
Speculation surrounds potential easing of inheritance tax burdens, with Chancellor Hunt seeking to address the Tories’ election prospects. The plans, emphasizing affordability and avoiding inflationary impacts, may include business tax adjustments alongside potential inheritance tax reductions.