Thousands of Universal Credit claimants face penalties THIS WEEK over job rules

BRITS claiming Universal Credit could have their benefits cut within days as a result of new rules about accepting work.The conditions attached to unemployment benefits were overhauled last month to slash the amount of time people will be given to accept a job offer.
1Claimants could face having their benefits docked after four weeks if they turn down workCredit: Getty
As of February 8, benefit claimants have just four weeks to try and get a role they have previous experience for, before they are expected to accept alternative offers of employment.
Previously, they had been given three months to find a job of their choosing.
If they don’t make “reasonable efforts” to do so, such as sending applications or attending interviews, or if they were offered a job in a different industry and they turned it down, they could have some of their Universal Credit payments docked. 
That means that from tomorrow – four weeks after the new rules were introduced – people could start seeing a hit to their benefits.
Announcing the change, the government said: “The changes in the regulations aim to support people into work faster as we recover from the pandemic.
“If people are not able to find work in their previous occupation or sector, they are expected to look for work in another suitable sector and this will be part of their requirements for receiving their benefit payment.”
Most read in Money
How much benefit will I lose if I turn down a job?
There are different penalties depending on which “conditionality group” you are in.
These groups are based on your capability and circumstances, and whether you are deemed able to work.
The work-related activities that you will have to do will depend on your conditionality group.
You can speak to your work coach to find out which conditionality group applies to you.
The lowest level sanctions may be applied until you fulfil a job-related activity, such as taking part in an interview.
But in the worst cases, you may lose some of your benefits for 182 days – six months – if you have failed to meet the work criteria more than once.
Exactly how much you will lose depends on how much you receive. In some cases it could be up to 20%.
If you are going to have your payments reduced, you will receive a letter to warn you.
How to avoid a Universal Credit sanction
You can avoid being hit by a benefit penalty by doing the activities that you have agreed to do in your Universal Credit commitment.
This could include things such as going to meetings with your work coach and taking part in interviews.
If you can’t make a meeting, you can contact your work coach to rearrange, as long as you let them know in plenty of time.
You should also do everything you have agreed with your work coach to do to find work, such as attending a training course, updating your C …