Jun 082013
 

2.25 Million -But Why so many?

2.25 Million Jobseeker’s sanctioned
since Coalition came to office!

Are they serious?

These figures are truly earth shattering.

DWP figures which you can access here show that since May 2010 an astonishing 2,257,000 claimants on Jobseeker’s Allowance have had their benefits referred for a decision on whether to cut their benefits for a fixed length period.  The numbers of sanction referrals has rocketed from around 5,500 to 6,000 per month since 2000 right the way up to 2007, since then they have slowly increased but it is only since the Coalition took office that sanction referrals have sky rocketed to levels we have never seen before.  A study conducted by the DWP in 2006 showed that around 130,000 claimants in total were subject to sanction referral in a year.  These latest figures are seeing figures of over 110,000 in a single month.

From April 2000 to October 2012 there has been a total of 3,192,910 sanctions where a decision has been made over whether the claimant’s benefit should be stopped for a fixed period.  The fact that two and a quarter million of those sanction referrals have been recorded should be cause for serious concern as to the vigour at which they are being applied.

The DWP’s statistical footnote explains that ‘prior to April 2010, a Failure to Attend Advisory Interview attracted an entitlement decision. Since then, it has attracted a fixed length sanction of between 1 and 2 weeks.’  It is this kind of sanction which accounts for 1,150,670 of all sanctions – by far the largest number, this category has only come in to play since the Coalition took office.  487,980 reported failures to participate in the Coalition’s Work Programme are recorded since July 2011.  The fixed length sanction regime can last a longer than two weeks but the period of 1 to 2 weeks is what is recorded in the DWP’s notes.

These figures raise serious questions over the validity of the sanction regime.  It is simply incomprehensible that the rate of sanction should increase from 5,000 per month to over 100,000 purely because new conditionality has been built in to the claims regime. It should be remembered that these figures only relate to those claiming Jobseekers Allowance, the DWP has yet to publish full figures for the Employment & Support Allowance.

Questions should be asked as to whether it is the DWP’s privately contracted Work Programme providers who have simply become too ‘sanction happy’ in a bid to cover up their badly performing rates of placing the most ‘difficult to place’ claimants in to the workplace.  Claimants stand to lose their benefits for 1 to 2 weeks for failing to attend an advisory interview, in many cases their appeal rights are limited or not explained to them.  I can recall cases where claimants were sanctioned for the most bureaucratic of reasons.  In one case a claimant attended the Jobcentre for a full hour and a half in the morning happily going through all of his return to work options and was told he did not need to return in the afternoon to sign on at a desk which was a matter of a few metres away in the very same Jobcentre from where he was in the morning.  He was assured his signing details would be passed to the claims adviser and thought no more about it.  he later learnt he had been sanctioned for not turning up in the afternoon.  He ended up having to appeal – a process which took months.

One has to wonder if these sanctions are being imposed as a way of reducing the numbers who appear on the DWP’s payment database; which is needless to say closely linked to the data collected for Government unemployment statistics. Once a claimant has been removed from the payment database there is no telling how long it will be before the claimant reappears as a statistic – despite it being only a matter of weeks without benefit it can take months to adjust government statistics. 

Here’s the DWP figures:

 

 

Month                    

Claimants sanctioned 

May-10
Jun-10
Jul-10
Aug-10
Sep-10
Oct-10
Nov-10
Dec-10
Jan-11
Feb-11
Mar-11
Apr-11
May-11
Jun-11
Jul-11
Aug-11
Sep-11
Oct-11
Nov-11
Dec-11
Jan-12
Feb-12
Mar-12
Apr-12
May-12
Jun-12
Jul-12
Aug-12
Sep-12
Oct-12

61.020
80.410
84.870
84.170
89.180
88.490
87.250
67.670
73.500
80.080
89.130
62.540
58.970
54.260
48.830
51.000
50.740
52.700
61.930
52.140
65.390
75.520
86.310
80.560
98.220
88.840
110.470
96.270
97.040
79.500

Total 


2,257,000

A further DWP report issued in 2012 tells us how the sanction system operates in practice:

“If a claimant fails to undertake any activity required as a condition of their participation on the Work Programme without good cause, then a doubt may be raised against their claim. These doubts are referred to the DWP Sector Decision Makers (SDMs). Once the SDM has made a decision on whether to sanction or disallow/allow a referral, they enter their decision on a system called DMAS (Decision Making and Appeals System). The decision is also sent back to the Jobcentre Plus office for entry to LMS (Labour Market System) and JSAPS (JSA Payment System) which then makes the appropriate changes to the actual payment to the customer. ”

So it would appear the LMS records are updated upon sanction and will will have the effect of quickly ‘adjusting’ the unemployment figures – very handy.

Now lets compare those sanction figures with previous years using the same DWP data sources:

Month                    

Claimants sanctioned 

May-00
Jun-00
Jul-00
Aug-00
Sep-00
Oct-00
Nov-00
Dec-00
Jan-01
Feb-01
Mar-01
Apr-01
May-01
Jun-01
Jul-01
Aug-01
Sep-01
Oct-01
Nov-01
Dec-01
Jan-02
Feb-02
Mar-02
Apr-02
May-02
Jun-02
Jul-02
Aug-02
Sep-02
Oct-02

5.760
5.540
5.190
5.900
5.570
5.980
6.400
5.090
5.860
6.190
6.830
5.440
5.630
5.940
5.950
5.910
4.970
6.110
6.080
4.700
4.920
5.630
6.050
5.940
6.500
5.200
7.140
6.150
5.760
6.130


Total


174,460

Isn’t it astonishing that under the Coalition sanctions have soared to two and a quarter million compared with 174,460 over the same time period between 2000 and 2002? Yet the Coalition are always telling us how they’re reducing the numbers claiming Jobseekers Allowance with figures of approximately 1.5 million – they’ve seemingly sanctioned more than are currently claiming!

One also has to wonder how the rushed off its feet DWP is physically able to deal with this many sanctions, especially with all the appeals and reclaims it has to process – it all points to systematic chaos within the Department.

with thanks to the continously brilliant Nick for more go to

http://ilegal.org.uk/thread/7123/work-programme-working

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

Mar 262013
 

Benefit appeals are on the rise….

Sickness benefit appeals up by 70%….

‘Chaos is looming’

Latest statistics from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reveal that the DWP’s increasingly controversial Employment & Support Allowance is leading to a massive surge in the numbers of appeals lodged with independent Tribunals.  The Ministry of Justice figures can be read here and confirm that for the period July to September 2012 the number of appeals was up by 69% on the same quarter on the previous year.  Benefit appeals are now accounting for 58% of all cases received for appeals across all Tribunals – an alarming increase.

The Ministry of Justice figures exhibits all the signs of impending chaos with a staggering 813,500 tribunal cases in total; an increase on the previous year when the number had already exceeded three quarters of a million appeal cases.

The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeal receipts is of particular concern, in the year 2011/2012 a total of 181,000 appeals were received by the Tribunals. In the first six months of 2012/2013 the figure has shot up to 133,700 indicating that these appeals alone are well on track to exceed a quarter of a million by year end.

42% of DWP decisions in ESA cases are wrong!

By comparison with the second quarter of 2009/2010 when Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal receipts stood at 29,000 – the same quarter in 2012/2013 has zoomed up to 73,700 – an increase of 44,700.  Of the 53,200 ESA cases cleared at an appeal hearing 22,500 (42%) were found in favour of the claimant.  These figures highlight ongoing problems with the standards of decision – making following Atos ‘Work Capability Assessments’ – the DWP is still making an unacceptably large number of incorrect decisions.  

Total number of benefit appeals now on track to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year!

The total number of benefit appeal cases for 2012/2013 has already reached a wholly unacceptable figure of 308,200 meaning that if the trend continues, and there is every sign it will, the total number of benefit appeals alone will have reached well over 600,000 by the end of the year.

Cases outstanding (all) – 813,800  – chaos!

The total number of benefit appeal case ‘outstanding’ in 2008/2009 was 53,200 in the second quarter and has now more than trebled to 158,700 in the second quarter of 2012/2013.  A comparison with the figures for 2007/2008 when the figure stood at 347,100 shows the numbers have increased to a colossal 813,800 in 2012/2013. the number of employment tribunal cases outstanding as of the second quarter stands at 570,200, benefit cases stand at 158,700 in 2012/2013 and immigration & asylum cases at 41,000 – this is absolute chaos!

Exceeding the warnings given by the judiciary….

In a report issued in February 2012 provided by the Tribunal president  the judiciary gave the following breakdown of benefit appeal cases in the first – tier Tribunal and made the following predictions for increases in the appeal load:

Annual Intake of SSCS Appeals

2008-09 – 242,800

2009-10 – 339,200

2010-11 – 418,500

(forecast)

2011-12 – 421,609

2012-13 – 483,400

2013-14 – 576,700

2014-15 – 644,000

These latest figures show we are well on track to break past the 483,400 forecast for 2012/2013 and exceed the figure given for 2013/2014.  

The full effect of welfare reform changes has yet to hit the fan, the bedroom tax, more ESA cases, JSA sanctions (standing at 700,000), Disability Living Allowance giving way to Personal Independence Payments are all in the line up and will undoubtedly lead to the Tribunal president’s forecast being considerably exceeded.

Government and the DWP has to stop pretending that there is not a perfect storm brewing here, mandatory revision before appeal is only keeping the dispute out of the public’s attention in a pretence that the people who create the problems will somehow fix it.  The DWP is assessing twice as many ESA claimants as it needs to just to claim double its dubious ‘results’.  In reality the vast majority of those who flow off ESA and incapacity benefits are flowing straight back on to them shortly afterwards – government has no other credible explanation as to why after assessing over 2.8 million claimants between 2008 and 2012 the claimant count has barely reduced by little more than 70,000 – it’s derisory and half that achieved by way of reductions under the older incapacity benefits regime.  

The fact is that we were seeing much better reductions under the older incapacity benefits.  Government is using severely disabled claimants to manipulate its figures by its recycling of what can only be the same claimants.  It stands to reason that if vast numbers were really being ‘found fit for work’ the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count would have rocketed up to an embarrassingly high level which this government simply cannot afford to show.  

After coming off ESA claimants are being re-directed back on to it by Jobcentres who can clearly see these claimants are no where near ready for the labour markets.

Government’s mismanagement of the ESA reassessment programme:

There’s any number of statistical charts on here which you can muse over all day long.  

In doing so just apply the logic:

(1) We start with 2.6 million on the sick in 2008

(2) Various claims are made by the DWP/media of 75%, 50% and more recently 33% being found ‘fit for work’ 

(3) In 2012 we have 488,000 claimants waiting to be assessed

(4) In 2012 we have a Jobseeker’s Allowance queue that’s hardly grown

(5) By 2012 – 2.7 million have been subjected to Work Capability Assessments

(6) By 2012 – 3.8 million is the total number ‘case loaded’ through ESA

(7) By 2012 we are on track to break all previous appeal records with more hidden from view at the DWP

(8) In 2012 there are twice as many claiming on the sick as there were in 2006 

(9) By 2012 the claimant count for those on the sick has trickled down by a mere 70K, still leaving us with…. 

                              Around 2.6 million ‘on the sick’? 

(10) This wretched scheme is rapidly emerging as an absolute farce which is being used as a vehicle to keep the long term sick numbers down; thus keeping them from the long term ‘economically inactive’ count used by the ONS to work out the numbers said to unemployed. 

They have engineered themselves a clever way of marshalling the unemployment figure to one which is more ‘commensurate’ with the chancellor’s increasingly doubtful claims that we are ‘on the way’ to economic growth.  

With everlasting thanks to the brilliant Nick-

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more from Nick at http://ilegal.org.uk/ and below
See ESA Customer’s journey to nowhere

See the ‘journey in to work’

See a discrepancy uncovered

See unemployment is ‘falling’

See turning back the long term incapacity clock to zero