Our project gave evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry in January. We argue that for those in work, UC is intended to increase labour market attachment. However, our research has found that in practice, conditionality can be counterproductive – undermining work incentives and opportunities rather than reinforcing them. Claimants were disadvantaged by a lack of support to balance the requirements placed on them.
Our evidence suggests a mismatch between the design of conditionality and its application to in-work claimants of UC. The job search requirements on them currently do not fit their lived experience, as they already provide evidence of their willingness to work by being in paid employment. A further mismatch exists with the fluctuating expectations of employers and changing workforce norms (including zero hours contracts that make exact working hours and times unpredictable) and the inflexible requirements of conditionality.
We recommend greater emphasis on high quality flexible support, greater availability of training, education, voluntary work and other opportunities, and incentives for claimants to undertake these; and removal of disincentives and unworkable rigidities to take account of contemporary workplace practices.
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