The Social Security Advisory Committee has launched a public consultation on the Government’s intention to increase the number days claimants have to wait for entitlement to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) from three to seven.

It is estimated that those making a claim for JSA or ESA will lose, on average, £40 or £50 respectively.

Paul Gray (the Committee’s Chair) commented:

“This proposal has history. An identical change was put forward by the Government in 1998 but subsequently dropped.

Then, as now, an understandable desire to ensure limited public resources are used most effectively was the main driver for the proposal.

However, as benefits are now being paid fortnightly in arrears, it is important that we understand the full impact of this change – particularly on the most vulnerable. {jcomments on}

We are keen to hear from anyone who is able to provide information about the consequences of this change”.

The DWP estimates that, as a result of this proposal, the average loss of benefit at the start of each award will be £40 for JSA claimants and £50 for ESA claimants.

As these benefits are already paid fortnightly in arrears, in practice this will mean that people will typically have to wait three weeks for a payment, unless they are in a Universal Credit area, in which case they will be waiting 5 weeks or more.

The Government intends that the savings generated will fund other initiatives designed to help people find work.

It clearly hasn’t considered that it will cause significant hardship, distress, the potential for arrears of rent, Council Tax and other essential bills to build up, or the increase in short term loans being taken out by people who become sick or lose their jobs.

The change is intended to commence in October.

The consultation ends 13 June 2014. To respond to the consultation, visit the SSAC webite:


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