9 days, over 14 phone calls, and a lot of Vivaldi later…
The Public Accounts Committee cites evidence that one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction
Housing benefit is being wrongly stripped from jobseekers accused of failing to look for work, MPs say – threatening them with eviction and homelessness.
The “appalling situation” is condemned by a Commons committee which has told the Department for Work and Pensions to investigate the blunder urgently.
Government rules say benefit claimants who are sanctioned can be docked jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA) – but not housing benefit, which they may need to keep their home.
In evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Sir Robert Devereux, the DWP’s permanent secretary, said: “The sanction is applied to the JSA and not to the housing benefit.”
But a survey by the housing charity Crisis found that a staggering one-third of people who were claiming housing benefit lost their money when they were given a sanction.
Meg Hillier, the PAC’s Labour chair, said: “Suspending people’s benefit payments can lead them into debt, rent arrears and homelessness, which can undermine their efforts to find work.
“A third of people surveyed by the charity Crisis who were claiming housing benefit had this stopped in error because of a sanction – an appalling situation to be faced with.”
In a joint response with other leading psychological bodies to a Government consultation the British Psychological Society has called for the suspension of the benefit sanctions system.
The Government should suspend its benefit sanctions system as it fails to get people back to work and damages their mental health, says the BPS and other leading UK psychological bodies.
The bodies highlight evidence that sanctions, or the threat of sanctions (benefit cuts following a claimant’s failure to comply with jobcentre conditions, e.g. missing an appointment with their work coach) can result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment.
The call came in a joint response to the Government’s consultation, ‘Improving Lives’, from the British Psychological Society, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies and the UK Council for Psychotherapy.
Findings from the National Audit Office show that there is limited evidence the sanctions system actually works, or is cost effective. The bodies argue that the Government needs to change focus from trying to make unemployment less attractive, to trying to make employment more attractive.
More than 71,000 sanctions were applied against disabled ESA claimants between 3 December 2012 and 30 December 2016. While the mainstream media is focusing on the latest employment data, figures published today by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that tens of thousands of people with disabilities have been subjected to cruel benefit […]
Letters: The DWP‘s cruel benefit sanctions regime is leaving vulnerable people without the means to support themselves. So why isn’t anyone listening?
If you commit a crime, no criminal court in the UK is allowed to make you go hungry as a punishment. But if you’re late for an appointment at the Jobcentre, they can remove all your income and leave you unable to feed yourself or your family for weeks at a time.
Britain’s Welfare System is badly broken. There are thousands upon thousand of recorded narratives of the severe damage sanctions do to our fellow citizens in the UK.
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…