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The Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015

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Sanctions
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52.—(1) For Article 21 of the Jobseekers Order (circumstances in which a jobseeker’s allowance is not payable) substitute—

Higher-level sanctions

21.(1) The amount of an award of a jobseeker’s allowance is to be reduced in accordance with this Article in the event of a failure by the claimant which is sanctionable under this Article.

(2) It is a failure sanctionable under this Article if a claimant—

(a)through misconduct loses employment as an employed earner;

(b)without a good reason voluntarily leaves such employment;

(c)without a good reason refuses or fails to apply for, or accept if offered, a situation in any employment which an employment officer has informed him is vacant or about to become vacant;

(d)without a good reason neglects to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of employment;

(e)without a good reason fails to participate in any scheme within Article 19A(1) which is prescribed for the purposes of this Article.

(3) For the purposes of paragraph (2)(b), in such circumstances as may be prescribed, including in particular where a person has been dismissed by his employer by reason of redundancy within the meaning of Article 174(1) of the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 after volunteering or agreeing to be so dismissed, a person who might otherwise be treated as having left his employment voluntarily is to be treated as not having left voluntarily.

(4) Regulations are to provide for—

(a)the amount of a reduction under this Article;

(b)the period for which such a reduction has effect, not exceeding 18 months in relation to any failure sanctionable under this Article.

(5) Regulations under paragraph (4)(b) may in particular provide for the period of a reduction to depend on either or both of the following—

(a)the number of failures by the claimant sanctionable under this Article;

(b)the period between such failures.

(6) Regulations may provide—

(a)for cases in which no reduction is to be made under this Article;

(b)for a reduction under this Article made in relation to an award that is terminated to be applied to any new award made within a prescribed period of the termination.

(7) During any period for which the amount of a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance is reduced under this Article by virtue of a failure by one of the claimants which is sanctionable under this Article, the allowance is payable to the other member of the couple.

Other sanctions

21A.(1) The amount of an award of a jobseeker’s allowance is to be reduced in accordance with this Article in the event of a failure by the claimant which is sanctionable under this Article.

(2) It is a failure sanctionable under this Article if a claimant—

(a)without a good reason fails to comply with regulations under Article 10(1) or (1A);

(b)without a good reason fails to comply with regulations under Article 19A;

(c)without a good reason refuses or fails to carry out a jobseeker’s direction which was reasonable having regard to his circumstances;

(d)without a good reason neglects to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of a place on a training scheme or employment programme;

(e)without a good reason refuses or fails to apply for, or accept if offered, a place on such a scheme or programme which an employment officer has informed him is vacant or about to become vacant;

(f)without a good reason gives up a place on such a scheme or programme or fails to attend such a scheme or programme having been given a place on it;

(g)through misconduct loses a place on such a scheme or programme.

(3) But a failure is not sanctionable under this Article if it is also sanctionable under Article 21.

(4) Regulations are to provide for—

(a)the amount of a reduction under this Article;

(b)the period for which such a reduction has effect.

(5) Regulations under paragraph (4)(b) may provide that a reduction under this Article in relation to any failure is to have effect for—

(a)a period continuing until the claimant meets a compliance condition specified by the Department,

(b)a fixed period not exceeding 26 weeks which is—

(i)specified in the regulations, or

(ii)determined in any case by the Department, or

(c)a combination of both.

(6) In paragraph (5)(a) “compliance condition” means—

(a)a condition that the failure ceases, or

(b)a condition relating to—

(i)future compliance with a jobseeker’s direction or any requirement imposed under Article 10(1) or (1A) or 19A, or

(ii)future avoidance of the failures referred to in paragraph (2)(d) to (g).

(7) A compliance condition specified under paragraph (5)(a) may be—

(a)revoked or varied by the Department;

(b)notified to the claimant in such manner as the Department may determine.

(8) The period fixed under paragraph (5)(b) may in particular depend on either or both of the following—

(a)the number of failures by the claimant sanctionable under this Article;

(b)the period between such failures.

(9) Regulations may provide—

(a)for cases in which no reduction is to be made under this Article;

(b)for a reduction under this Article made in relation to an award that is terminated to be applied to any new award made within a prescribed period of the termination.

(10) During any period for which the amount of a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance is reduced under this Article by virtue of a failure by one of the claimants which is sanctionable under this Article, the allowance is payable to the other member of the couple.

(11) In this Article—

(a)“jobseeker’s direction” means a direction given by an employment officer (in such manner as he thinks fit) with a view to achieving one or both of the following—

(i)assisting the claimant to find employment;

(ii)improving the claimant’s prospects of being employed;

(b)“training scheme” and “employment programme” have such meaning as may be prescribed.

Claimants ceasing to be available for employment etc.

21B.(1) Regulations may make provision for reduction of the amount of an award of a jobseeker’s allowance other than a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance if the claimant—

(a)was previously entitled to such an allowance or was a member of a couple entitled to a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance, and

(b)ceased to be so entitled by failing to comply with the condition in Article 3(2)(a) or (c) (availability for employment and actively seeking employment).

(2) Regulations may make provision for reduction of the amount of a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance if one of the claimants—

(a)was previously entitled to a jobseeker’s allowance other than a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance, and

(b)ceased to be so entitled by failing to comply with the condition in Article 3(2)(a) or (c).

(3) Regulations may make provision for reduction of the amount of an award of joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance if—

(a)the couple were previously entitled to a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance but ceased to be so entitled by either or both of them failing to comply with the condition in Article 3(2)(a) or (c), or

(b)either member of the couple was a member of another couple previously entitled to such an allowance and that couple ceased to be so entitled by that person failing to comply with the condition in Article 3(2)(a) or (c).

(4) Regulations are to provide for—

(a)the amount of a reduction under this Article;

(b)the period for which such a reduction has effect.

(5) The period referred to in paragraph (4)(b) must not include any period after the end of the period of 13 weeks beginning with the day on which the claimant’s previous entitlement ceased.

(6) Regulations under paragraph (4)(b) may in particular provide for the period of a reduction to depend on either or both of the following—

(a)the number of occasions on which a claimant’s entitlement has ceased as specified in paragraph (1), (2) or (3);

(b)the period between such occasions.

(7) Regulations may provide for a reduction under this Article made in relation to an award that is terminated to be applied to any new award made within a prescribed period of the termination.

(8) During any period for which the amount of a joint-claim jobseeker’s allowance is reduced under this Article by virtue of a failure by one of the claimants to comply with the condition in Article 3(2)(a) or (c), the allowance is payable to the other member of the couple.

Hardship payments

21C.(1) Regulations may make provision for the making of payments (“hardship payments”) by way of a jobseeker’s allowance to a claimant where—

(a)the amount of the claimant’s award is reduced under Articles 21 to 21B, and

(b)the claimant is or will be in hardship.

(2) Regulations under this Article may in particular make provision as to—

(a)circumstances in which a claimant is to be treated as being or not being in hardship;

(b)matters to be taken into account in determining whether a claimant is or will be in hardship;

(c)requirements or conditions to be met by a claimant in order to receive hardship payments;

(d)the amount or rate of hardship payments;

(e)the period for which hardship payments may be made;

(f)whether hardship payments are recoverable.

(2) In Schedule 1 to that Order—

(a)in the heading preceding paragraph 14B for “or just cause” substitute “reason”;

(b)before paragraph 14B insert—

14AA.  For any purpose of this Order regulations may provide for—

(a)circumstances in which a person is to be treated as having or not having a good reason for an act or omission;

(b)matters which are or are not to be taken into account in determining whether a person has a good reason for an act or omission.;

(c)in paragraph 14B, in sub-paragraph (1)—

(i)for “this Order” substitute “paragraph 14AA”;

(ii)for “good cause or just cause” substitute “a good reason”.

(3) In Schedule 3 to the Social Security (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (decisions against which an appeal lies), in paragraph 3, sub-paragraphs (ca) and (d) are repealed.

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