Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green will today announce that jobseekers who are homeless or suffer from a mental health condition will now be able to access hardship payments immediately if they receive a benefit sanction.

Hardship payments act as a safety net to cover day-to-day living costs, and are issued immediately to individuals who are sanctioned and meet certain criteria like having children, or a long-term health condition. Other jobseekers cannot claim payments for the first 14 days of a sanction.

The criteria will now extend immediate access to homeless people and individuals with a mental health condition. The change is expected to help around 10,000 people over 4 years from 2017/18 to 2020.

Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green said:

Sanctions are an important part of the benefits system, but it’s right that people with mental health conditions as well as those who are homeless have immediate access to hardship payments should they need it. We want our jobseekers to focus on getting into work and enjoying the dignity and security of a good job. Our plan to help the most vulnerable into work is a key step towards building a great meritocracy where all that matters is the talent you have and how hard you are prepared to work.

Benefit sanctions are only used in a very small percentage of cases, and the number of sanctions has fallen substantially in the last year. On average in each month during this time, more than 96% of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants were not sanctioned.

This news follows on from the launch of the Work, health and disability: improving lives green paper earlier this month to help more people with long term conditions reap the benefits of work and improve their health, as part of the government’s ambition to halve the disability employment gap.

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