Gauke admits sanctions can harm mental health claimants – but what will he do?

David Gauke.

These are empty words from David Gauke. Tories will happily look at people with mental health problems suffering under their sanctions regime and do nothing.

Work and pensions secretary David Gauke has admitted that the system of benefit sanctions often fails to work and can instead cause harm to claimants, particularly those with mental health conditions.

The long-awaited admission was yesterday described by one leading disabled campaigner as a “significant step forward” in the battle to scrap sanctions.

Gauke, who was speaking during a fringe event at this week’s Conservative party conference in Manchester, said he would try to find a way to make the sanctions system – in which benefit recipients have their payments temporarily stopped if they fail to meet strict work-related conditions – less damaging to people with mental health conditions.

He was speaking only weeks after the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities called for a review of the “detrimental impact” of the conditionality and sanctions regime associated with the out-of-work disability benefit, employment and support allowance (ESA).

Gauke insisted that any “successful” welfare system had to be dependent on conditionality and that this “does ultimately have to be backed up by a system of sanctions”.

But in response to a question from the audience, he said he was “very conscious of the point that there are people, particularly with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, whereby you can have a vicious circle, where the stress of sanctions doesn’t result in more compliant behaviour, but… less compliant behaviour”.

He added: “Trying to find a way to tackle that I am not going to pretend is easy, because there are all sorts of risks if I was to say there is no sanctions regime for people with mental health conditions.”

But he said that “finding a way we can increasingly understand the personal circumstances and have a sanctions regime that reflects that has got to be the right direction.

“I am not going to pretend there is an easy solution to that but I think that is where we need to look at.”

Source: Tory conference: Gauke admits sanctions can harm mental health claimants

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


4 thoughts on “Gauke admits sanctions can harm mental health claimants – but what will he do?

  1. Justin

    well the solution is go and pay some of your highly paid quangos to do some research, perhaps ids maybe, he needs a job, here is a research theme, how much does it cost the nhs to pay a councillor, phychiatriast, phychologist, social worker, careteam, per hour,how much does it cost to pay for s short term long term hospital stay due to a failed esa assesment putting a vunerable adult back into hospital versus how much saving after a tribunal have we saved if we win the case?
    get fraud out of retirement and use his banking skills and calculating knowledge to work that out, you don’t need a 2:1 in social history and to fail the maths to get the answer so it should be pretty easy for a tory, though you might have to get a few of them together to understand the figures, that will take a few months!!!

  2. Looby

    So Gauke is working on this strange dilemma then –

    perhaps that is why it was announced this week that they have brought in some Psycho chiatrist to help reevaluate Mental Health Legislation,

    So perhaps their answer will be something like… er..

    Oh I know!

    Lets redefine Mental Health.

    If we make it an unwanted behaviour or attitude, then problem solved!!!!

  3. marcusdemowbray

    Gauke insists that “Conditonality” and its sanctions are needed.

    Only about 1% of benefits claims are fraudulent.

    The cost of DWP proceedures – including enforcing conditionality and sanctions – is more than it saves

    Tax Avoidance and Corporate profits leaving UK cost our economy far, FAR more.


Comments are closed.