Joint Claim Couple

J West made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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The request was successful.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act regarding the reduction in jobseekers allowance (income based) for two individuals occupying the same household treated as a “joint claim couple” in relation to two individuals occupying the same household who are treated as two single claimants (e.g. brother & sister/mother & son/father & daughter/housemates etc).

I would like you to provide me with the following:

Any studies recent or historic that have been undertaken that indicate that two people classed as a joint claim couple (either because they are married, within a civil partnership or because they have been classed as living together as husband and wife) are able to reduce their joint cost of living by £30.85 per week (difference between couples allowance of £112.55 and 2x single persons allowance of £71.70 each - £143.40)

If there are any circumstances within the current legislation whereby a joint claim couple have been allowed to be treated as two single claimants & what the reasons for this allowance may have been.

If a joint claim couple were to obtain a legal separation, divorce or dissolve their civil partnership but remain within the same household - would they then be treated as two single JSA claimants.

Whether two members of the same family such as brothers, sisters, cousins, father & son, mother & daughter etc who may be inclined to pool resources, shop for each other, cook for each other, share clothing, food, heating, bath water etc., ever be classed as LTAHAW within the current legislation.

If the answer to the above point is no & they cannot be classed as joint claimants how has the extra benefit that is paid to two single claimants within the same family unit been justified & not be classed as discriminatory to those that are married, in a civil partnership or LTAHAW as opposed to being related or co-habiting but not LTAHAW.

Please provide details of the relevant legislation that allows the reduction in benefit for joint claim couples (who are also two individuals) & does not contravene the human rights act 1998 Article 14 that determines that no person should be discriminated against.

Has there been a review of whether the lesser amount for joint claim couples (in relation to 2x single persons allowance) is still relevant since the introduction of legislation that directs both members of a joint claim couple to attend the jobcentre, be available for employment and actively seek employment thereby increasing the travel costs and job searching/interview costs of a joint claim couple.

If one member of a joint claim couple is sanctioned I understand that the other member then receives the single persons allowance if they have satisfied the labour market conditions. How will this change under the new Universal Credit legislation whereby the award is per household.

Under current jobseekers regulations (not universal credit) does a single persons allowance payment to one member of the couple after a sanction for the other member, disqualify a hardship payment to the sanctioned member of the couple.

How many staff working on replies to freedom of information requests within the department for work and pensions earn more than £171.43 per day (£600 divided by 3.5) and are there any employees that could answer requests whose services do not cost more than £600 (the cost of someone working on a request for 3.5 days).

Yours faithfully,

J West

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