> Something to bear in mind in the light of today’s claims that unemployment is falling. The number of people claiming JSA might be falling… but not necesserily because they’ve found work.
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 14th May 2014
In total, 870,793 claimants were subject to an adverse decision to lose their benefit in 2013 due to a failure to meet Jobcentre Plus requirements to make themselves available for work.
In October alone a total of 88,489 were subject to adverse decisions, a record number of sanctions for a single month since the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) started compiling the figures.
The figures released on Wednesday alongside the labour market statistics also show an additional 530,957 JSA claimants were referred for a sanction throughout 2013, but the adjudicator rejected the proposed sanction. A further 95,400 decisions were reserved and nearly 500,000 referrals were cancelled.
Across Britain between October 2012 and December 2013 just over 1 million people have been subject to an adverse sanction, 633,000 were allowed to keep their benefit after a referral and 580,273 has a referral cancelled. The DWP introduced a more demanding claimant commitment regime in October 2012.
The government made no comment on the figures and produced no accompanying analysis of the figures, although the new sanctions regime represent some of the most important welfare reforms the government has introduced.
> Well, there’s a suprise…
Ministers argue it is vital they do not repeat the mistakes of the 1980s recession when hundreds of thousands were allowed to stay on incapacity benefit without any serious effort keep them close to the labour market.
> Mistakes ? Wasn’t putting people on incapacity benefit just another Thatcherite fiddle to reduce the unemployment figures ?
Critics claim the regime is punitive and some jobcentres effectively are given targets to sanction a proportion of claimants. Jobcentre managers acknowledge they have management information on the proportion of claimants who are being sanctioned, and questions can be raised if a jobcentre is out of line with other jobcentres. They insist they are no targets.
Between October 2012 and December 2013 the number of lower-level adverse decisions for JSA claimants were 550,033, a further 388,324 were intermediate and just under 90,000 were the most serious sanctions. A first offence for a lower-level sanction can lead to loss of benefit for a month. A second failure at this level of offence leads to loss of benefit for 13 weeks.
The bulk of those subject to intermediate sanctions were found not to be actively seeking work, and those subject to a low-level sanction were found to be failing to participate in the government work programme.
Since the new regime was introduced more than 120,000 of those JSA claimants subject to an adverse decision were classified as disabled.
The number of Employment and Support Allowance claimants subject to adverse decisions is also steadily rising albeit at much lower levels. The number of ESA claimants subject to a sanction in December 2013 was 4,879, mainly due to a failure to attend an interview.
The DWP work services director, Neil Couling, told the Scottish parliament welfare select committee in April that: “My experience is that many benefit recipients welcome the jolt that a sanction can give them. Indeed, I have evidence – which I can share with the committee if members want it – of some very positive outcomes from just those kinds of tough conversations. They are tough conversations to have on the jobcentre side, as well as for the claimants.
“Some people no doubt react very badly to being sanctioned – we see some very strong reactions – but others recognise that it is the wake-up call that they needed, and it helps them get back into work.”
> Or into a life of crime, a life on the streets or out of life altogether…
He said the essence of the DWP approach is managing to encourage, support and move people through the different attitudinal groups into the determined seekers’ group.
> And that means what exactly ?
He conceded the numbers being sanctioned had risen but said it was too early to say if this was a trend. He argued that any rise in sanctions may be due to a rise in the numbers of times the unemployed can be called to a jobcentre. He said: “The chances of having a sanction in the course of interaction with the state organisation are going up, so there might well be an increase in the numbers. However, that is not an outcome that we are driving towards.”
Couling also said the rise in use of food banks was due to an increase in supply rather than an increase in demand due to the rise in sanctions. He said: “If somebody is sanctioned, they will have no benefit income for the period of the sanction unless they claim for hardship, so those individuals will present to food banks. In fact, there have been sanctions in the benefits system since it started.”
> The man’s a moron – unfortunately he’s a moron in a position of power.
Source – Welfare News Service – 14 May 2014
Yet another benefits scandal over ‘absurd’ two-week paid holiday for jobseekers
DOLE claimants are getting more than £140 in benefits while they take two-week holidays
Critics say it is “absurd” that jobseekers should get a paid break while they look for work.
All 1.2 million people on Jobseeker’s Allowance are allowed a fortnight’s break from looking for work without losing their handouts. The only conditions are that they stay in the UK and must cut short their trips if they are called to interviews or offered work.
> Allowed BY LAW, note. Nobody is breaking any law. Although that said, I’ve never taken it, nor has anyone I know. The main reason being that its another of those rights that the Jobcentre forget to tell you about.
Of course, thanks to the Express, now everyone knows about it !
If all current claimants took their fortnight’s holiday it would cost the public £165million.
> How ? They’d still be receiving exactly the same money as if they hadn’t gone on “holiday”.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “It’s deeply worrying that our welfare system assumes people will be stuck on benefits so long that they need a holiday.
“If you’re not looking for a job you shouldn’t get Jobseeker’s Allowance.
“Giving claimants paid holiday is absurd as their time should be devoted to gaining employment that could pay for a break.”
> And here come the usual suspects – Tax avoiders Alliance to the fore and in a minute there’ll be some Tory you’ve never heard of trying to win brownie points…
Tory MP Chris Skidmore
> Told you !
said: “Claiming dole can’t be treated the same as having privileges of full-time work with paid holidays.
“As a country we can’t afford for people to take two weeks off from looking for work.”
> Oh for fucks sake ! You do dispair at these idiots… wish they’d been equally vocal when it came to MPs expenses – the real something for nothing culture.
The Government says its new Universal Credit, which rolls together six benefits, will bring an end to the holiday privilege. A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “In Universal Credit, jobseekers will no longer be able to stop looking for work while taking in a holiday.”
> That’s the same Universal Credit which has cost millisons but still doesn’t work ? I read some where recently that the cost is £600 million + (and rising).
Kind of makes If all current claimants took their fortnight’s holiday it would cost the public £165million rather cheap by comparison, doesn’t it ?
Joke – Q. What’s the difference between Universal Credit and an unemployed person ?
A. There’s a good chance that the unemployed person will work one day 🙂
I almost couldn’t bear to look at the comments section following the article – this being the Express – but was actually almost pleasently suprised. Either the hardcore Express readers are on holiday themselves or there’s a guerilla infiltration going on.
One comment I particularly liked –
This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 19th February 2014
The total number of sanctions against benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690, the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker’s allowance was introduced in 1996.
The figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions cover employment support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.
The number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since JSA was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government.
In the year to 30 September 2013 there were also 22,840 sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA – the chief benefit for the sick and disabled – in the work-related activity group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for such claimants in October 2008.
The figures are derived from the latest quarterly set of sanctions totals published by the DWP.
The large numbers come before the government introduces its tougher claimant commitment that will require claimants to do more to prove they are actively seeking work.
Asked if an excessively punitive approach to sanctions claimants had contributed to the latest fall in unemployment, Esther McVey, the employment minister, said the DWP had brought the same clarity of requirements to those out of work that applies to those in work.
Critics, including members of the work and pensions select committee, will claim those on ESA and JSA are likely to be more vulnerable and chaotic than those in work. There is also criticism from charities about the way in which sanctions are administered and communicated.
The archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Catholic church in England and Wales, has also suggested something has gone wrong with the welfare state, prompting David Cameron to restate the moral case for his reforms.
Ministers have set up an external inquiry into how sanctions decisions are communicated to claimants, which is due to be published next month.
Analysis produced by Professor David Webster at Glasgow University of the latest set of statistics shows in the year to 30 September 2013, JSA claims were being sanctioned at the rate of 5.11% a month, and in the three months to 30 September 2013 at a rate of 6.00% a month. These are the highest rates recorded since the start of JSA in 1996.
Over the whole period of the coalition government, JSA sanctions have run at 4.42% of JSA claimants a month. This compares with approximately 2.46% during the Labour government from May 1997 to April 2010.
In the period 22 October 2012 to 30 September 2013 (a period of 49 weeks), 527,574 individuals received a sanction. The highest published number for any 52-week period was 528,700 in the financial year 2010/11.
The figures also show a large increase in sanction activity. A total of 560,371 decisions were taken in three months to September, of which 236,786 were adverse and led to some kind of benefit withdrawal, a further 157, 633 were non-adverse and 138,554 were cancelled.
The number of decisions is up from 513,327 in the same three months of 2012 when 217,871 were adverse and 137,713 were non-adverse.
This represents a doubling of sanctioning activity since the last full year of the Labour government. In the same three months of 2009 121,584 adverse decisions were taken and the total number of decisions was 237,622, less than half the activity of the same period in 2013.
Source – Welfare News Service 19 Feb 2014