Oct 202016

It was tough competition but we’ve finally whittled it down to our top 5 most appalling sanctions – see them in the video below

You can see DPAC’s Youtube channel for more videos from us here at DPAC’s Youtube Channel

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).


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 Posted by at 22:57

  9 Responses to “Watch: DPAC’s top 5 most appalling sanctions”

  1. Long standing research has shown that the behaviour of the interviewers is understandable in a climate of psychopathy generated by a bullying management hierarchy plus arbitrary target setting: but that is no excuse for some of the appalling decisions. The real evil lies with the politicians responsible for creating the regulatory framework and passing it into law. They are the ones who should face 156 weeks of sanctions, preferably with hard labour, all assets confiscated and based somewhere like Rockall. It’s such a shame transportation is no longer fashionable!

  2. I would like to know what has happened to the many people who have now dropped off the radar completely. The people who fed up at getting sanctioned for nothing have just thought it is not worth it. what has happened to them, I guess some are being supported by familiy and friends, maybe even managed a job of sorts Yet it really does worry me that no mention is made of the missing people and what has happened to them.

    • Yes you are absolutely right, and its a worry that we share. The social security system is so complex and hard to navigate so that people need expert advice to get their proper entitlements these days and those sources of help like CAB and legal aid have been cut back. Add to that sanctions, people found fit for work who are not fit for work and the chaos at the DWP where people get different answers when they talk to different DWP call centre workers and it all adds up to tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people who have fallen out of the social security system. We just don’t know how many and how they are managing to survive or some won’t be coping at all.

    • I am one of the ‘missing’. After having my 14 week sanction overturned on appeal two days before my 60 birthday I was then told that my small occupational pension (£650 a month) and my lump sum (£24,000) “took me over the (savings) threshold” and so I had to sign off.

      I now have to pay all my housing costs and council tax (£580 a month) leaving me with about £60 a month to live on. I am now trying (5th attempt since 2010) to claim for PIP but I am far from confident that I will get any help for my many disablements and chronic health conditions. I haven’t previously.

  3. As I listened to the 5 worst Sanctions I felt sick to my stomach. Genuinly. I could feel my tears welling up as I thought about these people having being sanctioned for “NO REASON”. This is just the tip of the iceberg. How can Job centre staff possibly condone this type of barbarick behaviour from their staff. It is ure evil, discriminatory and surely against every human rights act ever written. It is about time someone took this rotten, evil corrupt government to the Human rights court. @They truly need held accountable to those who have suffered needlessly at their hands. I have never been so disgusted with a system that is absolutly rotten to the core. It has to be scrapped. In a recent movie by Ken Loach. It is clearly stated that there are 20 people chasing every single job vacancy in the uk. That is actual fact. Then why are there these drakonian sanctions? It is true what the bbc reporter is alledged to have said about this government. They are all little Hitlers. They are Sociopathic Narsassists.

  4. It is a disgrace that this brutal, uncaring sanction system is being allowed to operate in this fashion.
    Automatic sanctions, without regard to circumstance, health or basic decency.
    Deliberate hunger and deprivation used as a means of discipline and repression.
    How have we as a society come to this in such a short space of time ?

  5. My lost her pip now she struggling to stay. In work

  6. This does no surprise me in the least,especially when you look at the quality of staff that exist,some examples, a Pip assessor, carrying out a bi-polar assessment, qualifications sports-physiotherapist, previous experience working in a bar, that report was so bad it had to go to tribunal and the dm in this case was also adequately useless, if there should be sanctions they should be sanctioned for employing this type of person. My favourite, i am qualified, after being asked what they were assessing a person for, that report was so full of holes that in the complaint i made, they stated he did not follow the exacting high standards they had, just like the year before, i do wonder about these high standards. this year and after over three month’s i am still awaiting the result, i asked them before the medical was allowed to proceed there qualifications, i am physiotherapist, okay, I have mental health really? and general practice experience ? even bigger really and the best part five weeks training at atos, the best piece of advice to give this person how not to sell yourself at a interview, this is not a isolated incident and to be honest until they can even think to get this house of cards in order with a independant complaints procedure, similiar to a pals operation,spot check inspections on report’s with service user involvement, mandatory reporting not reconsideration of staff to the appropriate professional body for misconduct which NHS Trust’s do to keep within the confines of law as well as within there own disciplinary proceedings then this will be the only way to make this cash for assessment system safe as in it current format it is not workable and in the past has a potential to make a mistake with a vunerable adult that could lead to a self-harm incident or worse with nothing ever being seen to be done to the assessor or decision maker except a there a naughty person and were going to tell there line manager, this system just based on the above really does make me feel confident and asks the question would you trust these people with your life if they ever had to enter back into the health service?

  7. I attended a PIP assessment, as a friend to a neighbour. At one point during the assessment, my friend, who had had a triple heart by-pass operation almost fainted with pain and stress. The nurse conducting the assessment, took his pulse and said to him, well if you can’t answer all my questions you will have to come back at some other time. My friend struggled on.

    His PIP was turned down, one of the reasons given was that he was able to communicate effectively ! We are now in the process of appealing.

    The climate created by this government has given licence, to this working woman, the nurse, to use a power to undermine intimidate and abuse, another human being, and then describe it as professionalism.

    This has to be resisted

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