19 February 2015
The Social Security Minister has announced changes which aim to help more Islanders out of Income Support and into work.
From Monday 23 February 2015, a greater proportion of people who receive the Long Term Incapacity Allowance benefit (LTIA) as well as Income Support will be expected to look for work and attend training to prepare them for employment. This will be a condition of them continuing to receive Income Support. They will receive full support and guidance for their job search from Back to Work.
LTIA is a health-related benefit which is based on the individual’s mental or physical condition. It does not assess their ability to work and many people receiving this benefit are already working.
Encourage people back to the workplace
The Social Security Minister, Deputy Susie Pinel, said that the department was not seeking to penalise people who cannot work but continuing to update the rules of Income Support to encourage people back into the workplace.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to help people achieve financial independence through work. We have always provided specialised support to help people who receive LTIA find suitable employment, but those who also claim Income Support have not always taken up this offer of help. From now on, we will expect a greater number of these people to engage with our services, and this will be backed up with financial sanctions for those who don’t take reasonable steps to look for work."
Support for jobseekers
The Minister said that unemployment should not be a lifestyle choice and the new rules are backed up by the support that is on offer to get other Income Support claimants into work.
“There is an enormous amount of well-publicised support available to help locally qualified jobseekers increase their chances of employment, whether that is through training, job searching assistance with the Job Club or increased engagement with employers,” said Deputy Pinel.
Current data held by Social Security shows that the proportion of people who only receive LTIA, but who still work, is three times greater than the proportion of people who are working and receiving both that allowance and Income Support.
“Since its inception in 2012, the Back to Work team has succeeded in supporting more than 5,000 job starts and we now have the capacity to help more people,” Deputy Pinel said.
Unemployment on a downward trend
“This success and the downward trend in unemployment over the last year does mean that the Back to Work teams at Social Security can broaden their focus to different groups of people who claim Income Support and can be helped into work. Obviously, the number registered as actively seeking work will rise as a result, but it will mean that we are supporting this group and helping them get into work.”
The change will affect around 100 people initially who will join the Actively Seeking Work register, but this will be extended in stages. By the end of 2016 an estimated 350 additional people who receive LTIA will be expected to actively seek employment.
The people who are affected by the change are being contacted by Back to Work and will be offered appropriate training and support to look for work.