Benefit sanctions: if you’re on new-style JSA or ESA, brace yourself!

Sanction centre: people on New Style ESA and JSA are about to be hit by the most arbitrary and unreasonable process ever foisted on large numbers of the public by a cruel government – the DWP’s sanctions regime.

The Department for Work and Pensions has decided that people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance, and Jobseekers Allowance, have life too easy.

So the DWP has introduced sanctions for those benefits. They came into effect on November 3 – did anybody notice?

The DWP says the rule change means that New Style JSA and ESA claimants who do not meet the responsibilities agreed in their Claimant Commitment, without having a good reason, will lose some or all of their payment.

But those with experience of how sanctions work in other benefits will know that claimants are likely to face unreasonable demands from the DWP that will be followed by a loss of benefits.

Sometimes they may be informed that their benefits are being sanctioned for transgressions that they have not committed or for failing to attend interviews to which they were not invited.

They may also be sanctioned for failing to attend interviews, even if they have provided good reasons. Being admitted to hospital – and therefore unable to communicate with the DWP – is never accepted as a good reason.

Of course, the DWP has not mentioned this. Its statement said: “As is the case for Universal Credit claimants, if someone in receipt of new style JSA and ESA fails to do what they have agreed to in their Claimant Commitment without good reason – such as having or caring for a child, or a change to a health condition – their payments may be reduced for a set period.”

This is particularly amusing – in a bitter way: “Sanctions are only applied as a last resort when a claimant is not engaging with the commitment they have made. If someone disagrees with a decision they can ask for it to be looked at again.”

Experience suggests that sanctions are less likely to be applied as a last resort than as a first response – especially if you are claiming ESA.

Of course it is entirely possible that the DWP will actually police its new system fairly…

But This Writer will believe it when I see it. I may have a long time to wait.

Source: DWP sanction rules will now apply to New Style ESA and Jobseekers Allowance claimants – Daily Record

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6 thoughts on “Benefit sanctions: if you’re on new-style JSA or ESA, brace yourself!

  1. SteveH

    Claiments should do some research and find out what they can be compelled to sign up to and then keep it to the absolute minimum. Don’t hand the DWP a baseball bat to beat you with

  2. wildthing666

    The DWP have a habit of altering entries to work journals after all it’s the government we’re talking about, not some third party.
    I had a friend who informed them that he wouldn’t be able to attend a meeting has he had being admitted to hospital after having a stroke, he emailed them, wrote in his journal and phoned them. They still sanctioned him for not attending.
    He used to back up all the important stuff to a folder on his PC and that included any entries in his DWP journal, he also carried a copy on his phone.
    When he received the sanction he provided copies of the email he sent the jobcentre but they claimed they never received them even though he used tracking software to track the email and it was opened by someone.
    He went to his work journal and found that they had altered the journal and inserted a request for him to attend a meeting with an advisor.
    He immediately sent an email saying he was going to prosecute the jobcentre/DWP as he had around 1000pages that proved he was in hospital on the date of the meeting and that the jobcentre/DWP had altered his journal. They eventually paid him 4 months backdated payments plus £50 in Jan 2020, he died 5 months later of C-19.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I think there’s some good advice there for ALL claimants: back up everything you send to the DWP!

      Sorry to hear that your friend died of Covid-19.

  3. Julia

    Yes ‘SteveH’ and Mike, good advice. But what about the poor souls who aren’t in a position to do this? And only the other day I read that benefits advice, which has been pared to the bone already, is to be cut further….

    Some ten years ago or so, I helped a relative appealing against a Crapita ‘medical assessment’ which went through all three stages, ending up with her having to appear before a judge as if she was a criminal. Thankfully the appeal was upheld and her benefits reinstated.

    Life went on for the next five years with further ‘assessments’, further appeals, ending up in rent arrears as sanctioned without telling her and Housing Benefit stopped, etc. etc. etc.

    Thankfully I had some knowledge of benefits through my work at the time (and a shout out here to ‘Benefits & Work’ whose advice was invaluable) and I managed to steer her through the constant Kafkaesqe nightmare it was even then. However, it took an enormous toll on her – she knew the ‘brown envelope’ syndrome very well and ended up practically agoraphobic.

    She no longer has to claim benefits thank goodness, but the whole experience was so damaging to her mental health I am convinced she might not have survived had she had to continue claiming, and she was certainly left a lot less able to do any work than had the DWP simply accepted she had a disability.

    Sorry to have gone on a bit, but it is a subject that never fails to upset and anger me.

    My sincere condolences to ‘wildthing666’ and the too many people who have lost friends and family because of the actions of Tory governments and the DWP. Utterly shameful in what is supposed to be a civilised country in 2021.

Comments are closed.