It was tough competition but we’ve finally whittled it down to our top 5 most appalling sanctions – see them in the video below
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A sanction is when the job centre stops you from claiming social security. Sanctions have existed since social security was first introduced in 1911.However they were considerably harshened by Peter Lilley (Secretary of State for Social Security 1992-1997) when he introduced the Job Seekers Act in 1995. People claiming the new Job Seekers Allowance, could be sanctioned for up to 26 weeks. Hardship payments were available during the sanction period. Hardship payments were a reduced level of benefit.
Sanctions continued under his successors (in particular skyrocketing under John Hutton). Hutton also laid the ground work for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to replace Incapacity Benefit. ESA is divided into two groups; the unconditional Support Group and the conditional Work-Related Activity Group. Consequently for the first time, job centres were able to sanction people who are too ill to work.
Sanctions exploded following the appointment of Iain Duncan Smith as Work and Pensions Sectetrary in 2010. His draconian Welfare Reform Act (2012) increased the length of sanctions to 156 weeks and converted hardship payments (60% of the usual rate of social security) to repayable loans. The number of sanctions imposed from 2010-2014, was more than double the amount imposed in the previous 13 years.
None of the major parties oppose sanctions in principal. Both Labour and Conservative governments have harshened sanctions. However in recent years they have been imposed for the most trivial and spurious reasons. The successful appeal rate is 58% – therefore an alarmingly high volume of sanctions are imposed illegally.
The SNP, the Green’s sole MP and various Labour MPs are concerned about the rise of sanctions. This video features testimonies from Lisa Nandy, Caroline Lucas, Anne McLaughlin, Debbie Abraham and Hugh Bayley (who retired in 2015).