An open letter to Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Opposition
Dear Jeremy Corbyn,
Please find a much condensed version of two cases from The Poor Side of Life website highlighting the catch 22 inherent in Universal Credit. As they illustrate- you cannot serve two masters!(1)
In this case a man in Leeds became unable to pay his rent after losing his job.
He had been employed to work 16-17 hours per week and to be available for more hours as needed. His contract stated that he was not allowed to apply for other jobs.
His Jobcentre advisor however, said that he had to do just that under the ‘In-work conditionality’ built into his Claimant Commitment under Universal Credit (UC), which requires that you spend all available time seeking more hours or better paid work with the aim of getting your earnings above the threshold that qualifies you for benefits.
He was therefore told to apply for a job with a rival company.
The first employer terminated him for breaking his contract not to look for other work.
His JC advisor awarded him for seeking more hours by imposing a 3 year sanction because he’d got the sack (for doing what he was instructed to do by his Jobcentre advisor!)
A young person on UC was employed to work 30 hours per week in a small shop.
As part of his claimant commitment and conditionality he was obliged to make himself available by phone to his JC advisor at all times. The two other employees in the shop, also on UC, were similarly required to take calls from the Jobcentre during working hours.
One day, all three were called to the Jobcentre resulting in the employer having to shut his shop and lose income. He terminated all of them in order to avoid any future such occurrences and employed pensioners, saying that he could no longer afford to employ people on UC.
One wonders how many more employers have come to the same conclusion?
Interestingly, around 40% of Jobcentre staff will soon be on UC with the same in-work conditionality. In their case however, it will be their employers enforcing their claimant commitments.
Today’s Guardian (3/5/16) highlights the anticipated widespread loss of income that will be suffered by families on UC. (2)
This subject is one which begs to be raised in PMQ as the government remains intent on the politically motivated austerity cuts impacting predominantly on the poor, whether unemployed or working.