Here’s positive news from Rachel Reeves and Stephen Timms, coming to this site via kittysjones:

We in the Labour movement have always believed that the right to work goes hand in hand with the responsibility to prepare for, look for, and accept reasonable offers of suitable work.

But, under Iain Duncan Smith’s regime at the Department for Work and Pensions, we have seen an exceptional rise in the proportion of people sanctioned – with one in four sanctions overturned on appeal. The government has refused to provide any explanation of this increase – but numerous sources have reported that the increase is being driven by unofficial targets imposed on jobcentres by the DWP. At the same time the limited, but nonetheless revealing government review of JSA sanctions secured by Labour has confirmed a systemic failure adequately to inform claimants of rules, reasons for decisions, their rights to appeal or to apply for hardship payments.

We have pledged that there will be no targets for sanctions under a Labour government so that jobcentre staff are focused on helping people into work, not simply finding reasons to kick them off benefits. We will also ensure that rules and decisions around sanctions are fair and properly communicated, and that the system of hardship payments is working properly.

It is deeply concerning that rather than preventing hardship, our social security system at present seems to be exacerbating it. And while we applaud the work of charities like the Trussell Trust, Oxfam and the volunteers and churches who are on the frontline of responding to these problems, our aim in the 21st century must surely be that the inspiring energy and generosity they exemplify can be directed to higher goals than simply ensuring people have enough to eat.

Read the full article here.

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