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Benefit claimants to be made to work longer hours to avoid job centre visits

The move will see benefit claimants required to work more hours in order to escape regular job centre appointments (PA)
The move will see benefit claimants required to work more hours in order to escape regular job centre appointments (PA)

Benefit claimants will soon be required to work longer hours in order to be released from regular job centre appointments, the Work and Pensions Secretary has said.

Under the current rules, those claiming benefits do not have to continue attending appointments with job advisers once they are employed for the equivalent of nine hours a week.

However in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Therese Coffey said the Government was set to increase that cut-off point, with the paper reporting it would be raised to 12 hours.

Ms Coffey said: “Once you get a job, if you’re working fewer than the equivalent of nine hours a week, we still expect you to be coming in and looking for work.

“We’re going to be raising that, I hope, very soon. We just want to help people get on into work. So that’s really important.”

She added the threshold could eventually be raised even further, but that would require the employment of more job advisers – also known as work coaches.

Therese Coffey
Works and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said the threshold could be raised further (Beresford Hodge/PA)

“Well, we’re still working through that, I think there’s an opportunity to do more,” Ms Coffey said.

“The more people that we see in the job centre, dare I say it, the more work coaches we will need.

“So there’s a decision to be taken. And I believe we can go further than that. But I can’t do that without more people fulfilling the role of the work coach.

“I think we should just get on with the initial bit. That in itself would bring about 120,000 people (into the work coach system). If we could start and kind of roll that in, then that would be a good stepping point.”