Section 44: Claimant commitment for jobseeker’s allowance
211.The claimant commitment will be introduced across JSA, ESA and IS before the introduction of universal credit, and will be a record of the responsibilities the claimant has to meet, including any requirements relating to work. Accepting a claimant commitment will be a condition of entitlement for all three benefits.
212.Section 44 makes amendments to JA 1995, WRA 2009 and SSA 1998 to introduce claimant commitments for people claiming JSA, replacing jobseeker’s agreements.
213.Subsection (2) amends section 1(2)(b) of JA 1995 to make accepting a claimant commitment a condition of entitlement to JSA.
214.Subsection (3) substitutes a new section 9 into the JA 1995 which explains the claimant commitment. As in universal credit, the claimant commitment will be a record of the responsibilities a claimant has to meet. Subsection (2) of the new section 9 explains that the commitment must be prepared by an employment officer and may include information prescribed in regulations and any other information the employment officer or the Secretary of State considers it appropriate to include.
215.Subsection (3)(b) of section 9 provides that, in particular, the commitment may include details of any requirements placed upon a claimant under section 8 or section 17A of JA 1995, or under a jobseeker’s direction. Section 8 relates to attendance of interviews with advisers and provision of evidence that they are meeting the jobseeking conditions, and section 17A allows for claimants to be required to take part in employment programmes or schemes such as Mandatory Work Activity and the Work Programme.
216.Subsection (3)(c) of section 9 provides that the commitment may also contain details of the sanctions that result if any of the requirements are not met without good reason.
217.Subsection (4) of section 9 ensures that a claimant will only be asked to accept a claimant commitment if the employment officer is satisfied the claimant would meet the conditions of entitlement set out in section 1(2)(a) and (c) of JA 1995, to be available for employment and actively seeking employment, if they meet the requirements recorded within it.
218.Subsections (5) and (6) make provision for the employment officer to refer, or the claimant to request a referral, of a claimant commitment to the Secretary of State to determine whether the claimant would meet the requirements to be available for and actively seeking work if they comply with the proposed claimant commitment, and whether it is reasonable to expect the claimant to comply with the commitment in relation to meeting those conditions.
219.Subsection (7) enables the Secretary of State, following such a referral, to give directions about the terms on which the claimant commitment must be accepted and to direct that the proposed claimant commitment is to be treated as having been accepted by the claimant on a date specified in the direction (if the claimant has accepted the commitment).
220.Subsection (8) enables regulations to set out the matters which the Secretary of State must take into account when giving a direction to treat the claimant commitment as having been accepted on a certain date, and the persons who must be notified of the Secretary of State’s decision or any directions given by the Secretary of State.
221.Subsection (9) enables regulations to set out circumstances in which a person could be treated as having accepted a claimant commitment. This might be necessary if the claimant has satisfied all the other criteria, but is temporarily unable to formally accept the claimant commitment in the manner set out in regulations. In such circumstances, regulations could enable an adviser to treat the claimant as if they have met the condition of entitlement that they have accepted a claimant commitment. Payment of benefit could therefore begin immediately and the claimant could confirm acceptance in the prescribed manner as soon as they are able to do so.
222.Subsection (10) provides that a claimant must accept the most up-to-date version of a claimant commitment, and do so in the prescribed manner, to meet the relevant entitlement condition.
223.Subsection (4) of section 44 substitutes a new section 10 into JA 1995 to allow for the commitment to be varied by the employment officer. Only in the case of variations relating to the jobseeking conditions is there a right of referral.
224.Subsection (2) of the new section 10 makes equivalent provision to subsection (4) of new section 9 where an employment officer proposes to vary a claimant commitment.
225.If a variation to a claimant commitment is proposed relating to the jobseeking conditions, the employment officer must notify the claimant. The employment officer may, and if the claimant so requests, refer the proposed variation to the Secretary of State. The unvaried claimant commitment will continue to have effect until such time as the referral is concluded.
226.Subsections (5) to (7) of the new section 10 make equivalent provision to subsections (5) to (8) of new section 9 relating to referrals of proposed variations. On a referral, the Secretary of State will have the same powers as under section 9 to give directions. Similarly, regulations may prescribe matters to be taken into account by the Secretary of State and who a determination or direction made under section 10 must be notified to.