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Jobseeker’s Allowance

Volume 552: debated on Monday 5 November 2012

A new sanctions regime for jobseeker’s allowance was introduced on 22 October. The new regime is clearer and tougher. For example, someone who has turned down a reasonable job offer three times in a year will lose their JSA for three years. Those who can work should work.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. In my constituency, many low-paid, hard-working people get more than frustrated with this cohort of people who continually refuse to take up work. Will he go into a bit more detail about the sanctions now in place to deal with able-bodied jobseekers who continually refuse to take up work they are able to undertake?

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the frustration among those who are working at seeing people who can work turn down jobs and simply get away with it. That is why we have introduced a new, tougher regime of sanctions, so that someone who turns down a job without good reason for the first time will lose their benefits for 13 weeks. That then escalates so that someone who turns down a job three times in a year will lose their benefits for three years. That is a very clear sanction, it is a very clear deterrent and it sends a very clear message that we expect people who have reasonable job offers to work and pay their own way.

We are talking about sanctions, carrots and sticks, and the Work programme is supposed to help people back into work. A constituent who had been on the Work programme and recently found part-time work has contacted me. He was concerned that the Work programme had been little or no help and that, although his employment was due to his own hard work, the Work programme contractor was paid anyway. What has the Minister done to prevent this deadweight loss?

The hon. Lady should examine some of the schemes that the previous Government introduced, under which people were paid regardless of the outcome—regardless of whether they helped people get back into work. Our Work programme pays people by results; it ensures that contractors are paid only where people get jobs, and sustainable jobs at that.