Income Support breach 3 implementation (FOI)
Income Support breach 3 implementation (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by States of Jersey and published on 26 February 2018.
I am seeking confirmation of whether or not, prior to 30 June 2015, the Social Security Department was imposing a requirement on jobseekers who had been issued with a third breach of a warning (ie 'Breach 3') sanction notice to be actively seeking work for 42 consecutive days after the closure of their household's claim before they would be permitted to make a fresh claim for Income Support.
30 June 2015 is the date when the Minister of Social Security's proposition P.52/2015 came into effect, having been adopted by the States a week earlier. On page six of the report accompanying that proposition, it was stated as follows (with particular emphasis on the words "new requirement"):
"The Regulations introduce a new requirement on anybody who has lost all entitlement to Income Support through repeated failures to look for work. Should that person try to claim again, they will first be required to demonstrate to a determining officer’s satisfaction that they have been actively seeking work for a continuous period of 42 days at some point prior to making a fresh claim. Without demonstrating this period of compliance, no fresh claim will be allowed, unless the individual’s written warning has elapsed due to the passage of 365 days or the person reaching the age of 65 (state pension age)."
However, while being questioned about the effect of proposition P.52/2015 during a Quarterly Hearing with the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel held on 21 May 2015, the Minister for Social Security and the Social Security Department's Policy Director appeared to directly contradict each other as to whether or not persons issued with a Breach 3 notice were already required to satisfy a requirement to be actively seeking work for 42 consecutive days. On page 15 of the transcript of that hearing, the Minister said: "Yes, six weeks. All we are saying now is that in that six weeks if you want to come back and reinstate yourself with income support ... I mean, somebody might not, they might leave the Island, they might decide that they have got a job. There are all sorts of reasons why they would not want to but if they do want to at the end of their breach time, if you like, then they have to have shown that they have been trying to find work during those 42 days, which is not the case at the moment."
Whereas the Department's Policy Director then interrupted the Minister and appeared to contradict her by saying: "So breach 3 comes into force and it says you lose your income support entitlement for six weeks and you must be actively seeking work for those six weeks."
Neither of these statements actually made it clear whether or not the Social Security Department was enforcing this 42 consecutive days requirement on Breach 3 recipients before 30 June 2015 when it had no legal authority to do so. Therefore please clear up this ambiguity as to whether the Department was unlawfully enforcing this requirement on those issued with a Breach 3 notice.
The Social Security Department can confirm that prior to 30 June 2015, it was a requirement implicit in the legislation for a person who was in breach of a warning for a third or subsequent time to comply with the actively seeking work requirements for a period of 42 days before a claim to income support could be opened. From 30 June 2015 this was made a clear requirement.