Welcome change to help homeless people seeking work

Monday, 30 June 2014 - 1:49pm

The charities Homeless Link and St Mungo’s Broadway today welcomed changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) that will provide extra support to people who are homeless and looking for work. 

Photograph: lydia_shiningbrightly (Flickr)

The conditions laid before Parliament today, which will come into effect on 21 July, offer a possible ‘easement of conditionality’ giving Jobcentre Plus advisers discretionary power to change the expectations around what is expected of new JSA claimants who are homeless and sleeping rough or in certain some kinds of supported accommodation. This could, for example, enable people to have a period of time to sort out their housing situation before they are required to commit to certain job seeking actions.

Homeless people face significant barriers in finding work and the lack of a stable home can create a serious disadvantage. Recent research by Homeless Link revealed that 31% of homeless people on JSA have been sanctioned, compared to just 5.5% of the typical claimant population (DWP). 

Instead of motivating people into work, the research indicated that the loss of benefits as a result of being sanctioned was, in many cases, increasing hardship. The changes announced today will help break down the barriers that many homeless people face in finding and keeping work. 

Jacqui McCluskey, Director of Policy and Communications for Homeless Link, commented:

“We welcome these new regulations as they recognise the additional needs and barriers homeless people face and the importance of easing the pressure people face when trying to find a suitable place to live. Having a place to call home is a vital step in the route out of homelessness and can provide the stability people need to rebuild their lives. 

“We have been working hard with the support of our members to get a fairer deal for homeless people seeking work, and today’s announcement shows progress that can be made. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure the new regulations are operate effectively and genuinely work for jobseekers experiencing homelessness.”

Kyla Kirkpatrick, St Mungo’s Broadway’s Director of Work, Skills and Advice, said:

“We know from talking to our clients that the majority want to work but being homeless is an obstacle to job-hunting. These changes could help temporarily ease the pressure to find a home and a job at the same time for people who are often struggling with health problems and a lack of basic skills, as well as homelessness.

“We know that with support, homeless people can and do return to work.  We hope that the Government will build on this and take action to improve the employment support available to people who are homeless.”  

The Jobseeker’s Allowance (Homeless Claimants) Amendment Regulations 2014 in brief:

- Work Coaches can decide whether a claimant becoming homeless constitutes a ‘domestic emergency’. If it does, there is no prescribed time limit for which they can apply the easement, but it will only apply as long as the claimant’s circumstances constitute a domestic emergency.

- ‘Domestic emergency’ is determined on a case-by-case basis but these regulations only apply to individuals who have recently become homelessness.

- The easement is conditional upon the claimant taking reasonable steps to find accommodation, and removes the requirement for the claimant to be:

  • available for work;
  • actively seeking work;
  • subject to a Jobseeker’s Direction; or
  • participating in the Work Programme.

- The easement is not expected to last for more than four weeks as it would be unusual for a domestic emergency to last longer than this period, though Work Coaches can extend the duration if considered appropriate.

- The claimant must prove they are taking reasonable action to find accommodation. These actions will be agreed between the claimant and Work Coach and recorded on the JSA Claimant Commitment.

Use the link below to download our practical guidance to what this will mean for you and your clients. 

Guidance on “The Jobseekers Allowance (Homeless Claimants) Amendment Regulations 2014”

Learn more about the new regulations that will provide a period of conditionality easement for homelsss Jobseeker's Allowance claimants. 


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Stephen Holland

Stephen served as our Communications Officer until January 2016.