New research: Universal Credit and ‘in-work conditionality’ – a productive turn?

July 23, 2019     Leave a Comment

This pilot study aims to explore employer responses to proposed new requirements placed on working Universal Credit (UC) claimants to increase their pay through progressing and/or taking on additional hours of work (UC replaces Working Tax Credits). It is led by original WelCond team member Dr Katy Jones at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Whilst policy specifics are developing – trialling is underway – the DWP’s ‘Employer Guide to Universal Credit’ states that workers in receipt of UC may be expected to:

a)         increase their hours

b)         look for ways to progress in their current workplace

c)         search for additional work with a different employer (take on multiple jobs)

d)         take up alternative work elsewhere (move jobs).

These expectations may be backed up by a combination of support (such as advice from JobCentre staff/skills training) and sanctions (reduced/suspended payment if claimants do not comply with work-related requirements).

Employers are key to outcomes arising from active labour market policies and their response to new expectations placed on low-income workers will be pivotal to the policy’s productivity effects. However, no research to date has explored employer perspectives of UC, or likely impact on firms’ behaviour and productivity. This project will gather employer perspectives of UC, and the likely impact of ‘in-work conditionality’ on firms’ behaviour and productivity. It is being funded by the ESRC-funded Productivity Insights Network.

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