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29 July, 2020 Open access

Public Law Project warns that reducing the time available for claimant commitment interviews could place claimants at greater risk of unfair sanctioning

Letter to Work and Pensions Secretary also makes best practice recommendations, including that work coaches must ensure claimants are made aware they can negotiate the terms of their commitment

The Public Law Project (PLP) has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Thérèse Coffey to warn that reducing the time available for claimant commitment interviews could place claimants at greater risk of unfair sanctioning.

Following the DWP’s confirmation, in answer to a parliamentary question on 13 July 2020, that it is testing 30-minute claimant commitment interviews, down from 50 minutes, PLP has written to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to ask what best practice is being developed to ensure that claimants are made aware of the adjustments that can be made to their commitments.

Warning that it believes that reducing the time available for claimant commitment interviews could place claimants at even greater risk of unfair sanctioning, particularly since newly appointed, inexperienced work coaches drafted in response to the COVID-19-related increase in claimants will be carrying out a large proportion of interviews, PLP recommends that, as a minimum, work coaches must ensure that during the 30-minute appointment claimants are helped to understand -

In addition, PLP asks Dr Coffey whether the Department intends to publish the results of its planned evaluation of shorter interviews, and whether the evaluation will consider the equality impacts on some groups with protected characteristics that may require additional time to explain their circumstances or who have more complex needs.

For more information, see Universal credit: Work coaches will now need to do more with less from publiclawproject.org.uk

Stop press: the Public Law Project also has a 'Universal Credit: Sanctions and your claimant commitment' microsite at: claimantcommitments.org.uk