DWP ‘punishing’ low-paid full-time workers under new benefits rule

Helen Smith: ‘Because I was working I just didn’t understand why I was sanctioned.’ [Image: Howard Barlow.]
Helen Smith: ‘Because I was working I just didn’t understand why I was sanctioned.’ [Image: Howard Barlow.]

Fines imposed on full-time workers who claim universal credit amount to “punishing the working poor”, experts have suggested, as it emerged that one woman was docked £220 for missing a jobcentre appointment because she took a family holiday.

The fines, part of a little-known “in-work conditionality” programme introduced by the then work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, have been called “political dynamite” by academics, who warn that it may undermine unemployed people taking low-paid jobs.

The Guardian has learned of a case where a single parent was fined after she took a holiday in Spain booked before she was moved on to universal credit in 2015. Although she says she explained to officials why she could not make the meeting, the fine was still imposed.

Helen Smith, 36, of Widnes, who says she regularly works 30-40 hours a week as a bar worker on a zero-hours contract, said that when she appealed against the fine she was told by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that being on holiday was not a valid reason not to look for work.

Smith, who says she has been in almost continuous employment since she left school, said: “Because I was working I just didn’t understand why I was sanctioned.”

Source: DWP ‘punishing’ low-paid full-time workers under new benefits rule | Society | The Guardian

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5 Thoughts to “DWP ‘punishing’ low-paid full-time workers under new benefits rule”

  1. Brian

    There is no logic to this approach by the DWP. Both the ministers and civil servants running this fiasco must be knowledgeable of what is going on. It can only be assumed that either they have motives other than stated in their remit, or their remit is criminal.

  2. Good grief! This increasingly unhealthy sense of entitlement that we are fostering now extends to describing as “punishing the working poor” any reduction in the money taken from others which may result in the recipients not being able to have a holiday?? Aren’t the ones from whom this money was stolen in the first place (many of whom can’t afford any holidays at all) the ones who are really being punished by having to support this ridiculous sense of entitlement?

    1. Mike Sivier

      What utter twaddle.
      You are saying that working people don’t deserve holidays.
      You are saying that companies shouldn’t have to pay working people enough for them to enjoy a reasonable standard of living.
      You are saying that the taxes used to pay Universal Credit are “stolen” from people who cannot afford holidays.
      Do you have any evidence to support any of these absurd claims?

  3. jeffrey davies

    they came for the unemployed they came for sick disable now they coming for those in work benefits it seems are only for ministers and their friends

  4. She was sanctioned because a small person with power enjoys being nasty. The people who would want to do this job is probably the least appropriate for it.

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