Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Claimants – know your rights on sanctions.

with 22 comments

This very useful new leaflet, by UNITE and the Public and Commercial Services Union has been brought to our attention (original here).

Claimants – know your rights on sanctions.



  1. Always read your Jobseekers Agreement/Claimant Commitment – this will specify exactly what steps you need to take each week, what hours you  are available for and how far you are expected to travel.
  2. It essentially acts as a contract; you can disagree with it if you think the steps are unreasonable.
  3. The JSA Regulations do not specify that claimants must keep written records of your job search.
  4. However, encouraging a claimant to keep a written record of the steps they have taken can help you to remember what you have done, and will help to build up a picture of the progress the claimant is making in their efforts to find work. (Labour Market Conditions Guide 2000)

The steps that are reasonable will vary from claimant to claimant and from week to week. In looking at whether the steps taken are reasonable, all the following circumstances should be taken into account:


  • Your skills, qualifications and abilities;
  • Your physical or mental limitations, including any time spent training in the use of aids to improve your prospects of obtaining or retaining employment;
  • The time which has passed since you last worked and your experience;
  • The steps you have taken in previous weeks;
  • The effectiveness of those steps in improving your prospects of securing employment;
  • Whether or not the steps taken improve your prospects of obtaining employment;
  • Whether or not the steps taken reduce your prospects of obtaining employment; availability and location of any vacancies; (Labour Market
  • Conditions Guide 203)
  • The type and number of steps a claimant takes to find work may be affected by their ability or a health problem. For example, a disabled person may find it physically impossible to take the same steps as an able  bodied person. However, they must still take whatever steps are reasonable allowing for their circumstances. (Labour Market Conditions Guide 204-205)



The use of sanctions have massively increased in the last few years. The government have pushed more and more sanctioning in their belief that benefit claimants are scroungers that need to be punished into looking for work.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Unite, National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers, Unemployed Workers Centres believe that many claimants are unfairly sanctioned. The conditionality regime is designed to trip claimants up with increasingly unrealistic expectations of what counts as actively seeking work.

PCS, the union that represents jobcentre workers, opposes the punitive sanction regime and the Government’s obsession with punishing benefit claimants. PCS directly opposed sanctions in the recent Select Committee
report, which criticised DWP for “hitting the target but missing the point.”

PCS and Unite the union have been at the forefront of fighting changes in welfare attacks.

PCS members are put under extreme pressure to refer claimants for sanctioning; we are working to expose the Government lies on targets and working with other organisations to help claimants fight back.

The DWP says that ‘looking for work should be a full-time job’. The Claimant Commitment involves ‘a strict compliance regime’, under which claimants can be required to undertake up to 35 hours a week of job searching, or any other activity a Jobcentre ‘job coach’ thinks is appropriate.

The Commitment will be even more oppressive than the existing set of sanctions that caused nearly 900,000 unemployed people to lose benefits – and the massive rise in food banks.
Other activities that a claimant may be expected to undertake will include ‘work-focused interviews’ whenever and wherever a jobcentre decides; ‘work preparation’ activities, which are designed to force those with sicknesses or disabilities into a ‘health care’ regime dictated by the jobcentre; and meeting a ‘work availability requirement’, where a claimant has to accept employment immediately, regardless of its suitability, or the level of pay and conditions.

There is no extra provision for the bus fares, internet and phone costs, or other expenses incurred looking for a job 35 hours every week.
Changes from 28th April 2014 include daily or weekly signing and 30 hours a week Workfare placements.

Whilst transport costs can be paid for attendance outside of the usual fortnightly signing, the new measures are clearly designed to catch claimants out and frustrate them off benefit.
If a claimant breaks any part of their Commitment, they will be subject to sanctions, which will mean a deduction, penalty or suspension of all their benefits.

A claimant receiving three sanctions can see their benefit stopped entirely for up to three years.
Sanctions can be medium or high level; medium level can result from things like failing to apply for the agreed number of jobs each week (even if there are no new jobs available), failing to turn up to a job interview, or even just being ‘sulky and uncommunicative’ in an interview .



22 Responses

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  1. The meeting a ‘work availability requirement’, where a claimant has to accept employment immediately, regardless of its suitability, or the level of pay and conditions can be avoided by claimants checking the Universal Jobmatch website for suitable vacancies before a signing or Jobcentre interview.

    Just make a list of suitable vacancies that you think your advisor thinks you are capable of doing and just say you’ve already applied for that particular vacancy and that you’re waiting for the employer to get back to you. As long as you show “good attitude” towards your advisor, you’ll be surprised how amenable they can be. Most of them are only human, after all. The Jobcentre simply don’t have the time or staff to check up on everyone.

    Dad Longworth

    June 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm

  2. Please allow me to enter the elephant in the room.

    Lets say you get the full 3 year sanction under UC meaning ALL benefits stop, THEN WHAT?

    What with now being Virtually penniless, Totally homeless and having zero prospects,

    what do DWP do next to reintegrate this person as even with hardship payments and foodbanks, this persons health,morale and even sense of social community will disintegrate to levels far exceeding that of the normal despondent languishing on benefits.

    No where have I read or heard be it government, media, even here amongst claimants what happens next. Financial cost aside which will be far greater to the tax payer than 3 years of JSA, this individual will need tons of medical help both physical and psychological and will be so far from job ready that it will in all likely hood take the same amount of time to repair them and that’s if the damage isn’t permanent.

    I have to confess I find it hard to see how sanctioning

    A: Helps a person get a job
    B: Doesn’t end up costing the taxpayer more via now not only through DWP but a more costly public service known as NHS.


    June 25, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    • It a scandal that such a punishment exists.

      Somebody in that position would be better off in Prison.

      Andrew Coates

      June 25, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      • Did I hear a penny drop?

        Maybe im not the conspiracy toting mad scientist after all then?

        Now please excuse me as I need to fix my time machine so I can take over the world with my imaginary friend one school at a time.

        Yours sincerely



        June 25, 2014 at 7:31 pm

      • Rather than sanctioning an unemployed person for 6 months, perhaps it would be more humane to just take them around the back of the sanction center and shoot them. Perhaps that’ll make them more employable.

        Another Fine Mess

        June 26, 2014 at 12:40 am

  3. Im wondering if you had your benefits stopped and then did manage to some how get a job would you have a case under erupean law because you would be paying NI contributions an element of which are a specific entitlement to that benefit?

    Of course get the funds to fight so a case would be a different matter.


    June 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    • In the nicest possible way growls “do the math”.

      31.2 million workers, not all paying tax and national insurance, with over a third either part time, self employed, ZH contract, agency, trainee or apprentice and the average wage being 20’000 per annum

      Around 117 billion spent on welfare yearly alone.

      Like I said some time ago any UK contributions don’t even touch the side of the bucket, the majority is borrowed year in, year out not to mention most of what is contributed or taxed gets sunk into the Monolith that is the NHS.

      I wont bore you with the other UK expenditures but will simply say this, the UK doesn’t generate enough capital that’s given or collected to pay for all the services and stuff we all have so where as the government doesn’t have bulls to tell you I will

      Not a prays chance sir as your contributions will only count for two tax years which wont be the first two meaning your have to work five years just to qualify for income support or what ever they call it these days which only lasts for the first 6 months of signing on after making a fresh claim.

      Hope that helps.


      June 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm


    These agreements are supposed to be SMART as they call them.however people are being bullied into what the advisor thinks appropriate to best secure a sanction.experience has shown that any counter claim at that point is just sniggered at and G4s appears behind the seat.

    jobseekers agreement has to comply with the law,which at jobcentre plus in the current climate is given little to no regard.


    June 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

  5. Ken, im not sure if your clever and taking the micky or just don’t genuinely know but SMART is an acronym which is explained in the link I have supplied below.


    Hope this helps


    June 25, 2014 at 9:42 pm

  6. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    June 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

  7. It is disgusting that Labour still supports Benefit Sanctions.

    Let Them Eat Art

    June 26, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    • I’d also be interested in Labour’s views on the Work Programme – or is everybody going to get a guaranteed job?

      And what about the commercial firms operating the ‘unemployment business’ that’s been leaching off the state for the last decade?

      When are we going to get rid of them?

      Andrew Coates

      June 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      • Slightly Off Topic. Which FORMER Reed Inpartenership Pa, Is Now A Client Of Another Wpp In Ipswich ?.


        June 27, 2014 at 8:36 am

  8. Where’s Obi?

    jj joop

    June 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

    • Thats what i was thinking,hope he is ok. as he puts a lot of effort informing others.

      Its good advice above,the important bit is the law.I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that people are being referred for sanction every time they visit.its embarrassing to be told someone is being referred to a decision maker with an audience opposite.some people do not look like they can cope with the conditions put on them.


      June 27, 2014 at 10:33 am

    • On Holiday With GAIA ?


      June 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

  9. These are the ‘sanctions’ Wonga faces for its actions,

    “Almost as shocking as Wonga’s dishonesty is that it will not be meaningfully punished for it.
    There is the £2.6million that the company will hand out to those it wrote to – that amounts to 3 per cent of Wonga’s pre-tax profit from two years ago. Most of that money is £50 for each of the 400,000 victims to compensate for distress.
    The rest is money that was repaid by panicked borrowers after the received the fake letters. Wonga will now give this back plus interest – at the standard 8 per cent, by the way, rather than the 5,853 per cent APR Wonga charges

    Read more: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/cardsloans/article-2669413/ED-MONK-Wonga-sending-fake-solicitors-letters-customers-shows-really-thinks-them.html#ixzz35pzZ8F4i

    Andrew Coates

    June 27, 2014 at 11:21 am



    Now before UK claimants go, “well that’s the states”, I suggest you think again what with the British being only to famed for sucking on American melons and visa versa.

    As much as I share a disliking for those that commit fraud along with the very existence of Facebook, is their no end to which governments will go now the public Facebook grass scheme has tapered and fraudsters wise up. What your witnessing people is the final nail in the coffin as so to speak of how UK investigators will get around you setting images to friends and family only.

    In case you don’t think DWP don’t look at Facebook, think again




    And many more.

    (This article is for the innocent regularly persecuted by a failing system)


    June 28, 2014 at 8:17 am

    • Of course the DWP, along with “law enforcement” has full, unfettered access to Facebook for the “prevention and detection” of crime – read the multi-page “user agreement” – oh, you didn’t.

      Another thing jobseekers have to be wary of is doing voluntary work, but not ‘declaring’ it. The Jobcentre are checking up on who is ‘working’ for voluntary organisations.


      June 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

      • yeah, I started doing some voluntary work but didn’t want all the jc hassle… a few weeks later I had to call a benefits integrity centre… one of the question they asked was was I doing any voluntary work 🙂 and from the way they said it I knew that they knew what I was up to 🙂 … so I packed it in 😦 the system is not there to help you… it is designed to BREAK you!! they also wanted to know if I had a paypal account… must think jobseekers are all trading on ebay or something… and loads of questions about money… capital… stocks… shares… property in trust…. lottery wins…. pensions…. lol 🙂


        June 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

      • Susie..I was asked by the Jobcentre last time I went to sign on if I had a Facebook or MSN Messenger Account. I told them know and was told that I ”should consider the benefits of a Facebook or MSN Account”. I told them I would ”consider it”. I don’t want a Facebook Account. I have NOT told them that though

        Mr Northolt

        June 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

  11. Reblogged this on markcatlin3695's Blog.

    Mark Catlin

    February 10, 2015 at 8:00 pm

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