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The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee is to conduct an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy, something the coalition government has been desperate to avoid happening. The committee is particularly interested in employment and support allowance (ESA) sanctions and why they have increased so steeply in recent months.

Members of the public can provide evidence to the committee about their own experiences of sanctions.

According to the committee’s home page:

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The Committee is particularly interested in:

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions, including: whether the current ESA sanctions regime is appropriate and proportionate for jobseekers with ill health and disabilities; and the reasons for recent sharp increases in the number of ESA sanctions.

  • Whether particular groups of ESA and JSA claimants (by impairment type; age; gender etc.) are proportionately more likely to be sanctioned than others.

  • To follow up the Committee's recommendation for a full independent review, to investigate the purpose, effects and efficacy of benefit sanctions, and to consider the issues such a review would need to take into account, including:

- What are the current sanctions regimes trying to achieve and what evidence is there that they work?

- To what extent are sanctions justified solely as a means of ensuring that unemployed benefit claimants fulfil the conditions of benefit entitlement?

- What evidence is there that benefit sanctions also encourage claimants to engage more actively in job-seeking and ultimately move into employment? How could this be measured?

- What are the wider implications of sanctions in terms of their impacts on claimants?

  • What are the alternatives to the current sanctions regimes? For example:

- How might the current system of financial sanctions be altered to make it more appropriate or effective?

- Is there a case for non-financial sanctions?

- What form could non-financial sanctions take?

- Are there examples of good practice from other countries?

Submissions do not need to address all of these points.

The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 12 December.

For more information and details of how to make a submission, visit the parliament website.


#5 SM 2015-02-26 04:03
Lots of talking goes on in committees, not much of substance comes from them. But committee members come away feeling better to have got things off their chests.
It would be a dream come true if anything - truly in most claimants' favour - results from this select committee.
It seems they are often just an exercise in making the 'right' noises.
+2 #4 tintack 2014-11-10 00:41
Quoting carruthers:
Are the tactics of sanctioning and bullying being used in an attempt not to get people into work, but to make them stop claiming benefit - even when the alternatives are starvation or suicide?

I think we all know the answer to that one, given that the government refuses to consider any meaningful reform of the WCA despite the overwhelming evidence showing that it has driven a great many people into an early grave. The idea of running a system that inflicts starvation and suicide on innocent people clearly doesn't trouble them.

I suspect the only radical reform of the WCA the government would support is replacing all existing descriptors with a single question: "Are you alive?". If the answer is yes, then you'll be found fit for work.

And if the answer is no, you'll be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group.
+2 #3 Paul Richards 2014-11-08 22:04
Hi carruthers,
Your's is a very interesting observation - BUT unless these so called 'Select Committees' have any 'teeth' to enforce their recommendations , then they are just 'bubbles in the wind'.
At this moment, they are not likely to get any 'teeth' at all.
Meanwhile - these terribly overpaid 'Work Providers' are, as usual laughing all the way to their banks - the Government Coalition will give them all the money they need - not out of Government money but from the gathered hard-working 'tax-payers' money.
And yes, you are most probably right! If I was the head of a 'Work Provider Company' - I would deal with the easiest first and then,
if they caused any problems - they would be sanctioned.
If on the other hand, they were 'difficult to deal with', such as having mental health issues or drug problems - then yes, I would find some reason to sanction them! My 'insurance' after all (if I indeed had any at all!! - would be at risk). If I was a 'Work Provider' - I am sure that my paymasters, the DWP would not bother to check anyway!! They, after all do not care - they just want them off of their 'unemployment' or ESA Support Register.
With all of the sh** people that the DWP have sent to me, I am very happy! My company is raking in all of their pounds - and I do not really have to do anything - just deal with them on a day to day basis and even better, pass them off onto my lower people who will sort them out nevertheless.
These poor people would be at the behest of my decisions to refer them for sanctions and they would have no comeback - unless they knew more about it and could fight back - probably by the Appeal process. However, many of these people do not know that they can Appeal/or have not been told that they can.
It is like having an Employer who does not tell you anything at all!
This is hypothetical, but I am sure that all of you can understand my thinking - if I was a head of a 'Work Provider' Company!
+2 #2 carruthers 2014-11-08 07:17
Elephant in the room time.

I quote from Margaret Hodge in your other news item

"The Department has not succeeded in incentivising Work Programme providers to support harder-to-help claimants into work. Almost 90% of Employment and Support Allowance claimants on the Work Programme have not moved into jobs.

Evidence shows that differential payments have not stopped contractors from focusing on easier-to-help individuals and parking harder-to-help claimants, often those with a range of disabilities including mental health challenges.
So the question not asked above is:

Are Work Providers using the power of sanctions as an alternative to finding work for those who might be more difficult to place - like those who should never have put into any sort of Work Programme in the first place?

As a follow-up question:

Are the tactics of sanctioning and bullying being used in an attempt not to get people into work, but to make them stop claiming benefit - even when the alternatives are starvation or suicide?
-1 #1 Paul Richards 2014-11-07 14:12
I wouldn't have thought that Ed Miliband is going to be publicly speaking out against it all any time soon!

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