Record Number Of Sanctions Imposed On Jobseekers

The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) being subjected to benefit sanctions is creeping up, with nearly one in five being penalised last year.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 3,097,630 JSA claims were made in 2013-14 and 568,430 individuals were subject to a sanction, a total of 18%. In 2012-13, 16% of claims were subjected to sanctions and 15% in 2010-11. They are imposed on people who fail to keep appointments, reject jobs or walk out of jobs without good reason.

 In 2008-09, only 286,694 sanctions were applied on the 2,935,930 JSA claims, representing 10%.

Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said:

“The huge rise in sanctions since 2010 shows the government’s system is in chaos. The number has doubled since 2009 to a level where one in five of all JSA claimants receive a sanction. This will lead to further concerns that unofficial targets imposed on jobcentres by the Department for Work and Pensions are forcing up the number of people who have their benefits withdrawn.

“Under a Labour government, there will be no targets for sanctions and the system will focused on helping people into work, not simply finding reasons to kick jobseekers off benefits.”

> So under a Labour government there will be no targets for sanctions. That’s not quite the same as saying there will not  be a vicious sanctions regime…there always were people in the system who’d impose sanctions just because they could.  They will presumably keep right on doing so.

The figures also show that 372,461 claimants were subject to one adverse decision, 99,621 to two and 35,170 to three between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014.

The DWP stressed the figures were derived from unpublished information that had not been quality assured to Official Statistics publication standards, and should therefore be treated with caution.

David Webster, an honorary senior research fellow at Glasgow University, said:

“The DWP is still regularly claiming that it is only a ‘tiny minority’ of claimants who are sanctioned – most recently by Esther McVey last week – but this suggests it is not a tiny minority.

The employment minister, Esther McVey, said:

“All the international evidence suggests that sanctions do have a positive impact on people getting into work, and there are two parts of that: as a deterrent, it has a positive impact on moving people into work and there is further research that, should somebody have been sanctioned, it helps them into work afterwards.”

> Actually, all it seems to prove is that sanctions reduce the unemployment figures – their real aim.  And that’s very much not the same as people vanishing from the figures because they’ve found work.

The DWP pointed to OECD research on northern member states which suggested that having a credible benefit reduction leads to increased work searches and a subsequent increase of flow into employment of up to 50%.

Source – The Guardian,  13 Feb 2015

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