DWP pilot to reduce benefit sanctions for homeless

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been running a pilot scheme in England with local housing providers based in Sussex, including Brighton Housing Trust and Riverside, under which ‘vulnerability markers’ are placed on the case files of homeless people. These markers on the files trigger Job Centre support to help homeless claimants avoid penalties for failing to find work.

The pilot scheme is an attempt to address concerns that Job Centre advisors are sometimes unable to recognise when claimants are homeless and need to be given extra flexibility. The Sussex pilot, which is supported by Homeless Link, is aimed at helping job centre staff support homeless jobseekers according to personal need.

Brighton Housing Trust said that, under the scheme, none of its residents had been sanctioned. Ministers recently extended the scheme to more hostels in Sussex in November.

The pilot follows legislation laid earlier in July 2014 to effectively exempt homeless people from sanctions for four weeks, using a JSA easement.