Citizens Advice Bureaux in Northumberland are expressing concern about government plans to increase the number of days people have to wait before getting paid Jobseekers Allowance and the sickness benefit Employment and Support Allowance.
The Government proposes that from October 27, people who make new claims for those two benefits will have to wait seven days, instead of the present three days, before being entitled to be paid.
Campbell McCrea, from Northumbrian CAB, said that the Government’s justification for the change is that it wants to put people off claiming for ‘short-term’ need.
Also it says that many people who claim these benefits do so when they leave well-paid employment and their wages are ignored and do not affect their entitlement.
The Northumberland bureaux are concerned that many of the people who will be affected will be people who have lost jobs through no fault of their own or have become too ill to work.
This change would effectively punish them at the very time they need help.
Many people, including those with mental-health conditions, put off claiming until they are desperate; the further delay would mean they are not able to receive any help, not just at the point of need, but at the point of desperation.
The previous government tried to introduce the same measure, but abandoned it and the Northumbrian CAB is calling on elected representatives to ensure this proposal ends in the same way.