From this Autumn anyone who loses their job will receive £40 less as a result of government plans to make people wait for longer for any job support, according to a consultation published today (Friday) by the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) – an official body that advises the Department of Work and Pensions on benefits issues.

The TUC believes that the new policy will make newly unemployed people easy prey for loan sharks, with even the government admitting that the change may increase reliance on short-term loans.

The government plans to make all new claimants for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) wait seven days before they are eligible for help (at the moment they have to wait three days). The committee’s consultation reveals that, according to the government’s own assessment, JSA claimants will lose £40 on average, while disabled people claiming ESA will lose £50.

The government’s impact assessment of the change, published by the SSAC as part of its consultation, shows that over 1.3 million people a year will be affected.

The government also believes that disabled people will be disadvantaged by the new policy and that under Universal Credit, “the potential hardship for claimants is much greater.”

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Forcing people to wait for job support will not help anyone find work. Instead it will make them easy prey for loan sharks. This has nothing to do with making work pay. It is simply a mean attack on the welfare safety net and could affect any one of us.

 “It won’t matter how long anyone has had a job or how much they have contributed to the system, they will all suffer the same penalty. The vast majority of people who lose a job thankfully find another one within a few months, but this is when they need help to tide them over between jobs. That is why we have a national insurance system to which we contribute when we are in work – a system that is now under attack.”