The PCS union, which represents DWP staff, has condemned the changes to sanctions announced in the Spring budget as a ‘massive attack on claimants’ which will usher in a ‘computer says no’ culture.
In the budget, the government announced that they would:
“. . . strengthen the way the UC sanctions regime is applied in Great Britain by automating parts of the process to reduce error rates, and additional training for Work Coaches to apply sanctions more effectively, including for claimants who do not look for or take up employment.”
In response, the PCS argue that:
“This is a massive attack on claimants that suggests there will be a huge increase in sanctioning activity unnecessarily forcing many already desperate claimants into deeper poverty to serve the failed and discredited idea that sanctioning people helps get them into work.”
The union goes on to say that:
“The automation of decision making for sanctions suggests a “computer says no” culture, which means that the individual circumstances of claimants will be ignored.”
DWP staff are particularly worried that it appears that work coaches are to be asked to apply sanctions. They argue that at the moment sanctions decisions are made by ‘remote decision makers’ who are trained to make complex decisions.
Making work coaches responsible for sanctions will destroy their relationships with claimants and potentially lead to more violent incidents in Jobcentres, the union claims.
PCS says that they will fight for a massive increase in staff to allow their members to support and not punish claimants.