Under DWP new rules Jobseekers to lose benefits for 3 years

The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) has introduced new rules that will see jobseekers who repeatedly turn down work have their benefits stopped for three years.

Until now, jobseekers who failed to actively seek work could have their payments stopped for up to six months. The DWP claims that jobcentre staff were forced to sanction 495,000 claimants last year, 72,000 of which refused an offer of employment.

The department hopes that the heavier punitive measures will encourage people to actively seek work.

Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said: "Choosing a life on benefits when you're able to work is not an option. These rules send out a clear message to jobseekers. We will offer them the support they need to find work, but in return for receiving benefits they have responsibilities too. People cannot expect to keep their benefits if they do not hold up their end of the bargain."

The previous punishment system saw jobseekers who broke rules hit with benefit sanctions that could range from between one week to six months. The DWP claims that the wide range left some claimants without a "clear understanding of the consequences of refusing to comply with the rules".

The new sanctions system will have three levels of punishment: low, medium and high. Rule breakers may be hit with a four week sanction for a "minor offence", whilst "serious repeat offenders" could be hit with a three year ban. The DWP believes the new regime will be "clearer and more robust" and better aligned with the rules that will be in place when Universal Credit is introduced.