The number of benefit sanctions imposed on job seekers has shot up by 50% in the space of six months, Politics.co.uk can reveal.
The number of sanctions imposed on people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit rose from 18,994 last July to 33,860 in December, before falling back to the 30,000 mark by March this year.
In the six months to March, the most recent month for which data is available, the number of sanctions had risen by 50%.
“It is a matter of real concern that the number of people on Universal Credit being sanctioned is increasing,” shadow employment minister Margaret Greenwood said.
“This data shows further evidence of the Tory government letting vulnerable groups down, fuelling poverty and even destitution in the UK.
“A recent Public Accounts Committee report suggested that sanctions are being ‘applied inconsistently’ and used as a ‘blunt instrument’.”
Politics.co.uk has combined both published and unpublished data from the Department for Work and Pensions. While figures for the old Jobseeker’s Allowance benefit are routinely published, recent data for the newer Universal Credit system is much harder to come by.
The true sanctions figures are actually likely to be higher, as the Universal Credit data excludes claimants in numerous parts of the country. (also, these figures don’t include sanctions on people with disability benefits)
read more here: http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2017/09/04/benefit-sanctions-shoot-up-50-in-six-months
f you’ve followed the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire on social media, one disturbing revelation has stood out: the fear that victims could have their benefits sanctioned because they were not able to get to the jobcentre to sign on.
Incredibly, representatives of local residents who approached local Jobcentre Plus officials and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff in North Kensington report being told that it could “not be guaranteed” that people caught up in the fire and its aftermath would not be penalised if they were unable to sign on.
Last night, when the Guardian approached them for comment, the DWP confirmed that normal jobcentre rules – including financial sanctions routinely issued to claimants who miss appointments – had been suspended indefinitely for former Grenfell Tower tenants and other local residents who claim unemployment benefits.
A local resident who said he was acting on behalf of the community claimed that the DWP only later moved to clarify the position because of pressure on social media. “Once it became clear that there was media attention focused on them, they have finally done the right thing,” he said. “Why should it take shame for them to act? Where is their humanity?”
As anyone who has been put through the Tories’ benefit system knows, “humanity” and the DWP are two things that do not tend to go together. Rather, it’s a department that in recent years has become synonymous with cruelty, where marginalised people are treated with total disregard – often at the very moment they are in crisis. In the last few days alone, we’ve had reports of a disabled woman who needs a bladder operation forced to sit in her own urine for two hours by a benefit assessor. And a woman who took her own life after her benefits were stopped when she missed a jobcentre appointment to go to the hospital. The DWP has since apologised for leaving a voicemail on the 42-year-old’s phone to say the sanction was being upheld – despite already having been told of her death.
read more here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/20/grenfell-tower-fire-residents-benefit-sanctions-dwp
From Kate Belgrave’s blog
While Brexit and Trump hoover resources and headlines, the state and so-called social landlords continue to get away with screwing people into the ground:
Last week, I spent several hours at the South Chadderton foodbank in Oldham speaking with people who’d come in for groceries.
We talked about the reasons why people needed to use the foodbank.
One explanation in particular came up, as it does a lot: Debt repayment plans are leaving people with no money.
People on benefits and low incomes are repaying arrears or loans money to councils, housing associations, the DWP, bailiffs and god knows who else – but they can’t afford it. The loss of the fivers and tenners that authorities deduct in repayments make a tolerable life impossible. People certainly don’t have the hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of pounds that are really needed to shift these debts. Simple equation, when you look at it. Debts grow and penalties grow, but income does not.
Read more here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2017/02/councils-housing-associations-and-the-dwp-are-crushing-people-with-debt/#
Ex job centre staff discuss the pressure they were under to sanction people.
This article is more or less a repeat of one I posted in 2014 titled “Most jobseeker agreements ruled unlawful – and the DWP doesn’t care”, but which is still highly relevant – hu…
Source: Sanctioned? It’s probably illegal and this may help you overturn it
Benefit sanctions that can plunge claimants into hardship, hunger and depression are being handed out with little evidence they work – a scathing report by the public spending watchdog has found.
Use of the penalties also varies “substantially” across the country and referral rates have changed significantly over time, according to the National Audit Office.
It accused the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of not doing enough to find out how sanctions affect people on benefits.
MPs said the findings showed it was “pot luck” which people were sanctioned and demanded ministers “get a grip” of the “discredited” system.
Birkenhead MP Frank Field said: “Sanctions are being applied at a scale unknown since the Second World War and the operation of sanctions on this scale has made for the most significant change in the post-war social security system.
“Yet the Government holds no information on what has happened to large numbers of people who have had their money withdrawn”