Tag Archives: Style

New DWP sanction system could have TOUGHER punishments for claimants

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

This is extreme, even for the Department for Work and Pensions.

It seems there are moves to toughen up the sanction system for people on New Style Employment and Support Allowance and Jobseekers’ Allowance, even though sanctions were only introduced a few days ago.

The DWP has a new watchdog organisation, the Social Security Advisory Committee (what happened to the Bonfire of All The Quangos?) that reckons the system isn’t harsh enough.

Apparently it is possible for people to claim both Universal Credit and JSA or ESA – but if they are sanctioned, it can only be applied to UC.

This means that such claimants would be in a better position financially than people on only one of the benefits; if the sanctioned amount was more than the value of the UC element of benefit payments to a particular claimant (it could be zero), then the total sanction could be as low as zero.

The SSAC wants the penalties to apply to both benefits that are being claimed.

Considering the arbitrary nature of the sanction system, This Writer considers the current situation to be a valuable protection for claimants. We have all heard horror stories about people who were sanctioned and subsequently died because the DWP got its decision wrong.

It seems the problem lies in the fact that sanctions are decided on the advice of a DWP work coach – a single civil servant – whose attitude to the job may vary between very extreme positions, depending on who it is.

Work coaches are supposed to help claimants write a “claimant commitment” that sets out their obligations as claimants of the state payments.

The commitment should be accessible, clear, tailored to the claimant’s needs and the state of the local labour market, and agreed by both the claimant and the DWP, and claimants should be properly informed.

In fact, research has shown that some work coaches aren’t using their discretion fairly or reasonably and opt for generic, rather than tailored, actions. Some work coaches were found to be copying and pasting actions from a shared document which had become standard in their local Job Centre.

There were examples of lone parents not being informed of their right to reduced work searches, and re-assessment interviews lasting just 10 minutes.

If brutal sanctions are applied to people on two benefits, on the say-so of the people responsible for such abuses of the rules, then hideous injustices may result.

Suggested examples include sanctions being applied to elderly disabled claimants now looking for work in their 60s and suffering poor health. How would they survive if their work coach turns out to be a “power maniac who enjoys putting the disadvantaged down”?

Ministers have not (yet) approved any suggested changes but we all know the DWP’s reputation for bloodthirstiness. How long will it be before this new opportunity to cause misery is seized?

Read more here: Exclusive: Benefits watchdog wants tougher punishment for jobless and disabled claimants after DWP bungles new sanctions system | Westminster Confidential

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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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