Independent review of the operation of Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions

Just had a quick read of the above report published today (I told you I had time on my hands)

You can read the full report here;

On the face of it, it’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the benefit sanctions system

Here is an extract about the amount of sanctions made (I’ve highlighted in bold what I consider to be the important points)

Total referrals
“While in 2013, less than 300,000 decisions to apply a sanction were made after referrals from schemes under the remit of this Review, far more referrals for sanctions were actually made. In 2013, over one million referrals for sanction decisions were made from mandatory schemes. Those that did not result in adverse decisions were split between “non-adverse” (the claimant provided good reason), “reserved” (the claimant left benefit between the time when a sanction was referred and a decision made) or “cancelled” (a number of circumstances can lead to a cancelled decision, for instance: that there was
a lack of evidence provided with the referral; or that the claimant had entered employment before the referral from a mandatory scheme had been made) decisions.” 


It’s easy to forget that there are real people behind these statistics.

The report urges the DWP to follow it’s recommendations especially around the communications it has with claimants and how a lack of understanding of the system should not be used against the claimant in the form of a sanction

“A number of these issues pose challenging questions over both how parts of the current system are functioning and whether future reforms might be able to make the system more transparent and supportive for claimants, whilst delivering greater likelihood of an entry into work and reduced benefit expenditure. Following this Review, I urge the Department to continue to consider how these issues can be tackled and how further reforms could help more people move more quickly into lasting jobs.” 

The one thing that really worried me in the recommendation section was this:-

The Department should revise guidance and/or enabling legislation so that, in some circumstances, providers of mandatory back to work schemes are able to accept good reason from claimants.

I think this gives too much power to the workfare providers and I would like to see some information about checks and balances around sanctioning by providers. I personally think it is wrong for a private company who receives it’s profits from taxpayer contributions, making a decision as to whether a claimant can continue (or not) to receive benefits funded by taxpayers.



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13 Responses to Independent review of the operation of Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions

  1. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.


  2. che says:

    The torys are always bragging they have “created” 1 million jobs……. and yet there are 1 million sanctions ….. coincidence ??


  3. jaypot2012 says:

    These bloody sanctions! And I know what I’d be saying to any workfare provider who wanted to sanction me – but I can’t ‘cos I’d swear!


  4. jaypot2012 says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    Bossy bloody nobodies saying if you can or can’t get your benefit…


  5. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.


  6. Florence says:

    Hi WWOL. I always look forward to your blogs, but when I saw this one, I sort of felt let down. Between friends, I slept on it before responding today. I saw you had sort of jumped on this report – me too – but your analysis missed fundamental problems with this report – it’s author, and the description as being “independent” . The Policy Exchange was founded by Gove and Maude, and it’s reports have always been partisan (to say the least) and with a very neo-lib agenda. The author – Matthew Oakley – worked for them full time, and was the author of the reports that gave rise to UC, conditionality, workfare, mandatory workfare, 35 hour week job searching, among many others, and yes – massive increased use of harsher sanctions. It’s all available of the PE site online. So now MO has left full time employment of the PE to describe his work for them now by the mainstream press and others as independent is disingenuous, to say the least, and I feel you have sort of perpetuated that, perhaps unwittingly, but a lot of people do use your blogs as source material. I see this report as having been a Crosby damage limitation exercise, that is going well, so far. It allows the usual “think tank says, we must do” logic to be rolled out for some tweaking, perhaps, maybe, but the reporting of the findings (widely reported as critical of sanctioning) is just that. It’s pure PR, and they will never implement but the airing gives the headlines to show that it is a new, listening, cabinet. The report was held back until after the reshuffle exactly for this political purpose.

    When read against the original reports by PE/ MO it can be seen in the correct light as a piece of political theatre for the Tories, while perhaps trying to face down the inevitable shit-storm that the architect of the harsh, death-dealing, sanctions and DWP regime of punishment, absolute poverty, homelessness, mental and physical health, child hunger causing “reforms” faces. I take it that MO is now staring into the abyss of the outcome of his “work”, and is trying to establish the argument for the defence, to try & protect his future. I think the report may be of limited use, for the reasons you outlined above, but that is just some mood-music, and does not herald any intention of IDS/ DWP in any loosening of the regime.

    Again, I am not trying to be disrespectful of your blog – that’s all good, but these issues are fundamental to understanding what this report is, and what it’s function is. It sounds like a wake-up call to the government. On my assessment, it is just window dressing, even if the facts highlighted are correct, but which are actually tightly drawn, and based on the implicit understanding of the inherent correctness of the system. As one would expect from the actual architect of the system. It actually says a lot less than the myriad of other reports on the actual outcome of the actual sanctioning – never mind that 1 million were called for (boo) but only 300,000 were implemented (hurrah). Bottom line, beware of the messenger, not just the message in this case.


  7. Hi Florence, thanks for your comments which are noted. I don’t mind anyone commenting on my blogs, I have a light touch moderation policy as I think all and any comments are important, even if they express views I don’t normally hold.
    I attached a link to the report so that people could read it and form their own opinions of it.
    I agree that the report is too narrow in its remit and doesn’t go far enough regarding the effect of the sanctions on individual claimants.
    As usual, the devil is in the details and it’s only usually independent bloggers and some of the non tory led media who pick up on these kind of reports. Unless personally affected, the general public tend to remain in ignorant bliss.
    So I have no problem at all with you proffering your view and in fact I welcome it for the reasons as previously stated.
    I welcome your opinion Florence and I hope you keep commenting on my blogs for years to come X X X


  8. Charles Loft says:

    Note that the LAW only requires 3 work related activities per week to be actively seeking work and hence eligible for JSA or ESA.. Object and appeal if necessary if you asked to sign for any more than this. The law also requires the DWP to abide by this law. State these FACTS to them. Also object to workfare on the grounds that it makes it impossible to phone or visit potential employers and that you would be too tired after workfare to carry out the mandatory 3 work related activities per week. The DWP and their ‘draconian’ requirements can be refuted!!!!


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