Apr 122018

Please send your submissions about sanctions to the Work and Pension Committee. The Committee is asking specific questions, and we recommended that you respond to them in the order they are asked, but nothing prevents you from expanding and describing the appalling impact sanctions had or have on you.  Importantly, as sanctions are supposed to ‘help’ claimants move closer to work or into work, anything which undermines or impedes this objective must be mentioned and emphasised. As should any negative impact on health, mental or physical.

The deadline for written submissions is 25 May 2018 and you will find at the bottom of the page some guidance about written submissions.

Or if you would like to submit information to include in a submission being made by Inclusion London, please email Ellen Clifford at Inclusion London on Ellen.Clifford@inclusionlondon.org.uk

The Work and Pensions Committee launches an inquiry into benefit sanctions: how they operate, recent developments, and what the evidence is that they work – either to deter non-compliant behaviour or to help achieve the policy objectives of getting people off benefits and into work.

Absurdly trivial breaches of benefit conditions

Sanctions, which take the form of docking a portion of benefit payments for a set period of time, can be imposed for breaching benefit conditions like attending a work placement, or for being minutes late for a Job Centre appointment.

Media reports of the Committee’s last inquiry into benefit sanctions in 2015 Benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review, described “copious evidence of claimants being docked hundreds of pounds and pitched into financial crisis for often absurdly trivial breaches of benefit conditions, or for administrative errors beyond their control.”

There have also been serial reports in the media of extreme instances of the use and effects of sanctions – people hospitalised for life threatening conditions or premature labour being sanctioned for weeks or months for consequently missing a benefits appointment, or being unable to afford the transport to a distant job placement and being sanctioned for failing to attend it – and speculation over the degree of discretion Job Centre Plus staff have in these instances.

Recent policy developments

The  inquiry will look at recent sanctions policy developments, like the “yellow card” system which gives claimants 14 days to challenge a decision to impose a sanction before it is put into effect. The system was announced in late 2015 although there is still no date for introducing it.

The inquiry will also consider the evidence base for the impact of sanctions, both that emerging from newly published statistics, and the robustness of the evidence base for the current use of sanctions as a means of achieving policy objectives.  Previously published in the Department’s quarterly statistical summaries, the Benefit Sanctions Statistics will now be a separate quarterly publication.

In 2016 the NAO released a report on the subject; and in February 2017 the Public Accounts Committee published its report “Benefit sanctions“. The Government accepted the recommendations of that PAC report and described progress on implementation in the January 2018 Treasury Minutes Progress Report:

  • The Government initially agreed to undertake a trial of warnings for a first sanctionable offence. This recommendation has not been implemented.
  • The Government agreed to monitor variation in sanction referrals and to assess the reasons for such variation. The Department’s research on variation is due to be completed in March.
  • The Government agreed to monitor the use and take-up of protections for vulnerable groups. The Department is “still considering the best way to qualitatively assess the use and effectiveness of protections for vulnerable claimants”.
  • The Government agreed to improve data systems, including on linking information e.g. earnings and sanctions
  • The Government initially agreed to work with the rest of Government to estimate the impacts of sanctions on claimants and their wider costs to government. This recommendation has not been implemented.

Send us your views

The Committee invites evidence on any or all of the following questions, from benefit recipients with experience of the system, or experts in the field:

  1. To what extent is the current sanctions regime achieving its policy objectives?
  2. Is the current evidence base adequate and if not, what further information, data and research are required?
  3. What improvements to sanctions policy could be made to achieve its objectives better?
  4. Could a challenge period and/or a system of warnings for a first sanctionable offence be beneficial? If so, how should they be implemented?
  5. Are levels of discretion afforded to jobcentre staff appropriate?
  6. Are adequate protections in place for vulnerable claimants?
  7. What effects does sanctions policy have on other aspects of the benefits system and public services more widely? Are consequential policy changes required?
  8. To what extent have the recommendations of the Oakley review of Jobseekers’ Allowance sanctions improved the sanctions regime? Are there recommendations that have not been implemented that should be?

The deadline for written submissions is 25 May 2018.

Sanctions need to be proportional and fair

Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Sanctions are an important part of any benefits system but they need to be applied proportionately and fairly and to account for individual circumstances.

I’ve seen deeply troubling cases in my constituency that suggest these objectives are not always being achieved. We will be reviewing the evidence to see if sanctions policy is working properly and if not, we will recommend improvements.”

Further information



[suffusion-the-author display='description']
 Posted by at 17:33

  9 Responses to “Benefit sanctions inquiry launched. Please give your views to the Work and Pension Committee”

  1. i claimed esa twice but turned down after the assessment i was suspected having a mini stroke i ganed not one point the assessor said the reason was because i opened a bag containng my medication without assisstance thats why i gainned no points

    • Did you challenge the decision? A lot of people get DWP nill points descisions overturned, but you need to go through the reconsideration and appeals process.

  2. Wows.reading such stories struck home in me a serious sense of disbelief.Eh? Surely some mistake.But,no,these are realities crawling into people’s minds seemingly to disrupt values then taking a measured swipe while ransacking seemingly targeted emotions creating sticky confliction and anxiety.
    I’m with wheelchair.My,er,status,my condition has yet to feature in my dreams.In them I am dancing.Kissing.[swoon].Walking.Always upright.As was.Another person ago… Am not a victim of these sinister sanctions.Have been refused PIP.So in a similar boat.Or on a thin raft.Yes,a ringing disbelief lingers.How has it reached such a collision point? How dare they! More contempt unshielded unhidden aimed with intent[s] to destruct.How have we – us the un-wealthy – allowed this to emerge?Disabling us.Master/slave stuff,Y’know.So: What,in our collective powers,should we do by way of protest? We have been delivered into the margins where it is surely presumed that we’ll behave in a dizzyingly state of obedience.The anticipated outcome – let us not allow this.So we make a stand.Something that not only catches their eye but – hypothetically – blackens it.Long overdue.So what to do?Engage ourselves in.A construct when operational will make this mob have a re-think.Have their actually been human beings who have died as a direct outcome/consequence of sanctions?What the F,,,,, Anger? Suppressed?Suppression initiates and ignites depression.Very nasty.worming coercion.Enough,right? So strategies – bright responses? A stand.Serums?Remedies?Panaceas?Anyone??I have some above board ideas that could not possibly go unnoticed..Have any in your ranks have?

  3. People have died the government don’t care its time to to fight fire with fire

  4. I have Austio a rhinitis diabetisandcopd some days I can hardly get out of bed and can hardly walk . I have not been sanctioned yet . I lost my esa and have been forced to sign on .I have done various courses and got certificates. But yet I still haven’t manages to get a job as I haven’t worked for elEvan years. As I was a carer for my son who has adHD and schizophrenia and ws denied pip twice. Appealed and got no where. So Evan if I do mange get a job what do I’ do with my son as he can’t be left alone .Thissystem stinks. Sanctions should be stopped as it affects e vary thing and evary body .

    • I’m so sorry to hear what you have been through. You are clearly, not fit to work. I know the system is so difficult. But you should both claim ESA and PIP again. And take it to appeal and tribunal if you have to. But I would suggest you get help all the way. Try CAB and there are some brilliant groups on Facebook that can help you. It’s a hard journey, to try and do on your own, so you need help.

  5. How many studies must be undertaken at the expense of the taxpayer before the DWP and the government gets the simple message of sanctions???? How can destroying a human being be constructive. Those on benefit are already destroyed human beings, they need constructive help NOT TOTAL DESTRUCTION. By taking away the last means of financial support means they can NO LONGER CONSTRUCTIVE LOOK FOR WORK, now they are totally destitute, cannot eat and will lose their home. SIMPLE.

    GOVERNMENT POLICY IS TOTAL TORTURE. This is not what citizens pay taxes for. There is no difference between this policy and warfare with chemicals, the result is the same, torture unto death. How can the UK government subscribe to such an inhumane policy?? How many years of research by professional bodies must there be BEFORE THE GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS SUCH A POLICY IS CRUEL AND INHUMANE????

  6. Sanctions cannot be beneficial to finding work.

    [1] The only situation where sanctioning would work is if the ‘jobseeker’ is a lazy good-for-nothing. Unfortunately this government seems to think everyone fits into this class. Personally I would say only 1 in 10,000 sanctions fits.

    [2] The next question is simple – who has the right to judge if a person is ‘lazy’. An investigation should be carried out first – one as detailed as the DWP fraud investigations.

    [3] Job centre staff should be there to help find a job ‘appropriate’ for the seeker – not just any old supermarket position!!!! ‘IF’ the staff think there seeker is a no-hope then they should tell the seeker that, if still no joy then pass the details to be investigated.

    [4] My own personal experience was sanctioned for not looking for work. I’m a full time carer for my husband who suffers a form of dementia and was going through cancer treatment at the time!!!! Needless to say I appealed and won. This is totally unjustified as all my details were on file and I told them this before it happened.

  7. If sanctions are applied to vulnerable people they then have nil income with no support. How are these people supposed to cope if they do not understand why the sanction has been introduced in the first place. Example memory problems and head injury patients.
    In the long run this will cause the government more money. I have firs hand experience of this as son has had two head injuries one resulting in a broken jaw, now pinned and plated. Attacked by thugs both times. Has affected his memory and he forgets appointments and important visits at the hospital. For this he has been sanctioned which is appalling how is he to cope as he needs a care team in place.

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