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)
“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.”
OVER ONE MILLION SANCTIONS!!!!!
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.