Universal Credit is notoriously unflexible.
The chair of the Work and Pensions commitee Stephen Timms has urged the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) not to sanction people who don’t attend job centre appointments because they have coronavirus symptoms.
In a letter to DWP Secretary Therese Coffey, Timms said: “As you will know, Public Health England is advising some groups of people to self-isolate, which involves staying away from the workplace or other public areas.This will obviously have an impact on people who are required to attend Jobcentres (or face a sanction).”
Those claiming social security can lose out on their benefits if they do not attend job centre appointments, which often pushes them further into poverty.
Timms said: “Minimising the harm to society from coronavirus will require a cross-government approach. With its staff delivering services to thousands of people every day, DWP has a vital part to play.”
“To contain the spread of the virus, it’s imperative that the department takes a flexible approach to its rules and enables people to follow public health guidance – especially people who are at risk of sanctions.”
“This situation is rapidly evolving – DWP needs to be ready to adapt, to ensure that no one has to make the invidious choice between financial hardship and putting themselves and others at risk.”
In his letter, Timms asked Coffey why the government’s coronavirus action plan does not address the potential impact on Universal Credict claims and what plans are in place if a job centres is forced to shut.
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