A flexibility allowing universal credit claimants to undertake training for up to 16 weeks has been extended for a second time.
The Education and Skills Funding Agency announced today that the flexibility will now last until April 28, 2023. It had been set to end next month.
The flexibility, originally announced as a six-month pilot in March 2021, increased the amount of time claimants could study full-time, work-focused courses will still receiving benefits from eight weeks to 12 weeks.
This then went up to 16 weeks if the claimant was on a skills bootcamp and now applies to all types of work-related training if the person is in the “intensive work search group” for universal credit.
“Universal credit claimants in the intensive work search group will be able to attend full-time, work-related training opportunities lasting up to 16 weeks across Great Britain as part of their work search activity. This flexibility has now been extended until 28 April 2023,” an update from the ESFA said.
“This is a great opportunity for FE providers to work with their local jobcentre plus and partnership managers to offer full-time, work-related training courses.”
Universal credit claimants will need to get agreement from their work coach to “ensure this is the right support for them and appropriate for the local labour market”.
The previous eight-week universal credit rule was heavily criticised by the FE and skills sector. In June 2021, the Association of Colleges published a report saying the rule meant claimants are “prevented from developing skills that would allow them to get into better-quality, more stable, better paid employment over the longer term”.
Latest Department for Work and Pensions data shows 5.6 million people were receiving universal credit in January 2022.