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WPC Investigating Benefit Sanctions

The Work and Pensions Committee is conducting an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy.  This interestingly comes after a comment in the recent Public Accounts Committee report into the Work Programme which highlighted sanctions and in particular one provider leading the charge with high levels of DMA submissions.  

W2W Solutions has recently seen first hand the attitude of some JCP staff that people need to be 'taught a lesson' and have to comply with a Claimant Commitment, irrespective of how unreasonable, out of date, or ineffective it is at helping someone into work.  We recognise this isn't all JCP staff but the bad apples taint the rest of the service and those staff who do provide a positive service and are there to help people.  While there isn't a 'target' for JCP staff to reach in relation to sanctions in some areas they ARE monitored on it.  Irrespective of their positive performance, if they aren't making enought DMA referrals this will be a factor in their appraisal.  A 'target' by any other name! This isn't good enough - punishment for the sake of it is counter-productive in the extreme for many people who actually need help.  Everyone working in the welfare to work sector knows that some benefit claimants are working the system, but these are in the minority.  It really is about time the sanctions regime was put under the spotlight, and W2W Solutions welcomes this inquiry.

The key areas the Committee is interested in are Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions, including: whether the current ESA sanctions regime is appropriate and proportionate for jobseekers with ill health and disabilities; and the reasons for recent sharp increases in the number of ESA sanctions; and whether particular groups of ESA and JSA claimants (by impairment type; age; gender etc.) are proportionately more likely to be sanctioned than others.

As part of the investigation, the review will take into account:

What the current sanctions regimes are trying to achieve and what evidence there is that they work. 

  • To what extent are sanctions justified solely as a means of ensuring that unemployed benefit claimants fulfil the conditions of benefit entitlement?
  • What evidence is there that benefit sanctions also encourage claimants to engage more actively in job-seeking and ultimately move into employment? How could this be measured? 
  • What are the wider implications of sanctions in terms of their impacts on claimants?

The alternatives to the current sanctions regimes.

  • How might the current system of financial sanctions be altered to make it more appropriate or effective? 
  • Is there a case for non-financial sanctions? 
  • What form could non-financial sanctions take?
  • Are there examples of good practice from other countries?

So if you work in the sector, whether as a Work Programme provider, welfare adviser or JCP member of staff then get involved and send your views for consideration to the Committee.  Submissions should be no more than 3,000 words - deadline is Friday 12 December 2014.

Click here for more information.

9 November 2014

 


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