Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Sheriff style badges for Jobcentres meeting benefit sanction targets

with 48 comments

The great Johnnyvoid blog has reported on Jobcentre Plus regional manager Sandra Lambert (who talks a lot of shit) responsible for posting a photo of a “DMA UPHELD” sheriff badge on her twitter.

DWP has always denied there is targets for benefit sanction referrals despite cases of benefit sanction league tables up on walls, congratulatory messages within newsletters,  awards of easter eggs, gold stars and now, sheriff badges.



Sandra Lambert, manager of 149 Jobcentres and self-styled lifestyle guru, has spent much of the last few days frantically blocking people on twitter who have been taking the piss out of the cringemaking motivational advice she inflicts on the poor bastards who work for her.

She wasn’t fast enough however to hide the tweet in which she awarded a Texas style sherriff’s badge to Jobcentres in the midlands for upholding there DMA rate – as spotted by @refuted.  A DMA means a referral to a Jobcentre ‘decision maker’ to process a benefit sanction.  It is the second time this month a DWP manager has been exposed praising their staff for hitting benefit sanction targets – targets that Iain Duncan Smith’s department have repeatedly claimed do not exist.

Read full article on Johnnyvoid


48 Responses

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  1. I hear so many account from people about being sanctioned that I lose track.

    But I heard one over the weekend (not from Ipswich incidentally, it’s through family connections) that was pretty bad.

    A woman who’d turned up for a meeting with her ‘Coachy’ (Adviser) only to find that he “didn’t work Fridays”.

    So she didn’t have the interview.

    She was then sanctioned because……she didn’t have the interview.

    Andrew Coates

    December 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

    • That is absolutely appalling – even by Jobcentre Plus standards – this is the problem with third parties… Jobcentre Plus despite their sanctions regime would have likely revised (cancelled) the sanction, except, unknown to Jobcentre Plus, they wouldn’t be aware of the adviser’s (“coachy”…really?) working patterns, and not only does it raises the question why create an appointment/interview where the interviewer wouldn’t be there… but why did someone raise a sanction doubt for this?

      Unless its changed in the last year or so, there is no automatic sanction doubt raising procedure. Its a manual action. A computer may list potential offences however someone must then action them into raising a sanction doubt (they are probably on commission no doubt) their database would specify who the adviser was.

      The tricky thing is its hard to get a reconsideration/appeal to this… not sure if Jobcentre Plus would follow up a defence of “turned up but adviser doesn’t work Fridays, so couldn’t do the appointment”. The provider could always lie and disagree with the defence. I guess half the battle is proving you turned up, a bus ticket could prove you went out etc. but not that you turned up for the appointment. Signing in the fire book is unlikely to be provided by the “provider”.

      This is the problem. I would have got evidence such as a photo of me signing in the fire register book (i.e. after I done it with the data and other names) or if available hold up a newspaper with the date on with a recognisable part or person from the centre in the background… (or just voice record the entire event including their conversation)… only if they refused to write a statement and sign to the effect, that you turned up but the advisor didn’t. This makes me a difficult “customer”.

      Except, until they screw you over the first time, any of this is the last thing you would ever think of doing. You aren’t expecting trouble. Okay, they wasted your time, you got down there and the person wasn’t there to be seen… you are very angry but realise this is probably a mistake, everyone is human, humans makes mistakes etc. Probably apologised unreservedly to you while you were there, not expecting to be sanctioned in a million years for their mistake.

      Did she appeal? (Does she intend to?) Keep us updated on progress (if known).

      More silly reasons for sanctions https://intensiveactivity.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/benefit-sanctions-in-numbers-a-summary/#comment-79584

      Universal Jobmatch

      December 22, 2014 at 10:55 am

      • I am assuming this appointment was this the ‘work programme’; these bastards are infamous for pulling stunt – chopping and changing/cancelling appointments/appointments on incorrect day or time… and then raising an FTA (failed to attend) on their system (all the whilst pretending they have on other option). Of course by the time the appeal comes round the original ‘adviser’ will probably have left/be otherwise unavailable, the paper-trail will be lost/doctored… which gives them ‘plausible deniability’ leaving the claimant in the position of not being able to ‘prove’ anything… Of course the DWP/WP knows damn well what is going on but the dwp ‘decsion maker’ will inevitably find the wp more ‘credible’…. the only hope left to the claimant is to appeal to a Tribunal but by that time the ‘sanction’ will have already done the damage. It is an absolute disgrace that this is going on… What say you Sarah Lambert?

        Fizz Bomb

        December 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      • Interestingly, it is some lowly admin worker (probably on workfare) that the work programme use to complete/sign the DMA referral paperwork… you won’t see the “adviser”‘s name/signature anywhere on it… it is not them who presses the sanction button/pulls the sanction lever…

        Fuzz A

        December 22, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  2. I call ’em Coachys – because they are Work Coaches now not advisers.

    Yes it’s a bad case.

    I hear more commonly people not having full proof of jobs they were told to apply for – that is when they reply gets snarled up, people being tripped up over travel times – we’re probably meant to be able to go to London from Ipswich, people trying to assert their dignity by only wanting to apply for jobs they are qualified for, people not wanting to sign the ridiculous 35 hour a week Jobby stuff.

    Apart from the sin of sins – not being on time for an interview.

    And so it goes.

    Andrew Coates

    December 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

    • It can’t be any more than 90 minutes travel time form Ipswich?

      Fuzz A

      December 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      • Used to be about 55 mins now its 1 hour and 5 minutes (approx) for “fast” train. There is a slower one which is about 90 minutes I believe.

        This is excluding travel within London… that is unless your office is over the road from London Liverpool Street.

        Universal Jobmatch

        December 22, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      • Assuming the trains work properly that is: every week there’s some horror story about delays, overrunning Engineering works.

        The London to South End route used to be the ‘misery line’.

        Now it’s the Norwich – via Ipswich – to London one.

        Andrew Coates

        December 22, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      • Indeed Abellio Greater Anglia are useless.

        The time before last, I used a London-bound train I was standing on Platform 2, National Rail Enquiries had it scheduled on Platform 2, no sign of a train, none of those 1980s TV screen displays were operational – just a message about IP address (obviously network connected displays), people were on the platform waiting… I went to check at the customer information place… apparently there was a last moment platform change, so I went up the steps, over the bridge, down the other side to platform 4… got within half a metre of the train… and it departs!

        I was only going to Colchester so it was inconvenient having to wait for the next one.

        Of course, the buildings between Platform 3 and 4 shield the train and I didn’t see it arrive (probably been there a while). To be fair the screens in the ticket hall were working but I didn’t check.

        Of course, quite naturally, waiting for the return train journey is ALWAYS a problem, been like that for at least 10 years that I know of.

        Universal Jobmatch

        December 22, 2014 at 6:13 pm

      • No but if you have an appointment in London I would make sure you can get there. You could get a sanction. It’s roughly 80 Mins on the main line. You have too also allow for the tube


        January 9, 2015 at 9:40 am

    • Re travel times. 90 mins by train. IF they run on time. Greater Anglia could have claims against them if THEIR foul ups cause you to get sanctioned


      December 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

      • OFF TOPIC RE UJM……Password is not case sensitive. I tried various combinations;- Xxxxxxxxxxx XXXXXXXXXX xxxxxxxxxx It still let me access my account.


        December 24, 2014 at 6:46 am

    • I was told London is within 90 minutes travel time. I was also told that your Claimant Commitment MUST match what you put on your UJM log etc


      December 24, 2014 at 9:00 am

  3. Andrew Coates

    December 22, 2014 at 12:14 pm

  4. Please sign this petition.

    Benefit Sanctions Must Be Stopped Without Exceptions in UK.

    21,256 signatures so far.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 1:19 pm

  5. Expert says DWP robs £300 million a year from most poor and disadvantaged.


    Hansard: Jobseeker’s Allowance (Sanctions) “Dr David Webster of Glasgow university, the leading academic authority on benefit sanctions. He estimates that the amount of benefit withheld in sanctions is now running at £300 million per year”



    Sanctions misery for tens of thousands this Christmas.

    21 December 2014.

    More than 80,000 UK families face a bleak Christmas because their benefits have been stopped.

    An estimated £20 million – £250 each on average – is being withheld from unemployed and disabled people this month under the government’s punitive and controversial sanctions regime.

    Using Department for Work and Pensions data, we calculate 74,000 people will lose more than £19 million in jobseeker’s allowance – an estimated 2,000% increase since the Christmas before the coalition government took office.

    Almost £700,000 in employment and support allowance is being taken away from 6,800 disabled people this month.

    We are opposed to the system, known as the stricter benefits regime, which means jobseekers can have their benefits removed for up to three years and which charities cite as a reason for the rise in the use of food banks.

    DWP continues to claim there are no targets for advisers in jobcentres to refer people for sanctions, but we have provided evidence that the department’s appraisal system, linked to the disciplinary procedure, is used to enforce ‘expectation’ levels.

    Our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “There is no evidence that stopping people’s benefits improves their chances of finding long-term employment.

    “Many are being punished for simply turning up late to an interview or refusing to work for free for a profitable company on one of the government’s failing workfare schemes.

    “Use of these sanctions has spiralled in recent years, but they do nothing but heap blame and misery on some of the poorest in our society and they should be scrapped.”

    How it is calculated.

    •DWP’s monthly sanctions figures are available up to June 2014.

    •We used trends over the latest 12-month period for which figures are available (July 2013-June 2014) to project how many claimants on jobseeker’s allowance and employment and support allowance will be sanctioned this December, estimating 80,800 people having a total of £20,373,000 in benefits stopped.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

  6. For anyone who has been selected for the SJ:

    There is no mandatory requirement for individuals to sign an action plan when participating in Supervised Jobsearch Pilots, any failure to do so will not in itself result in the imposition of a sanction.



    jj joop

    December 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

  7. Here’s another one, as to what constitutes a sanctionable offence.


    jj joop

    December 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm

  8. Labour will ban Jobcentre claim-reduction quotas.

    Huge rise in benefit sanctions.

    Labour would scrap any targets for Jobcentre Plus staff to reduce or stop a certain number of benefit claims, the party has announced.

    An increase in such “benefit sanctions” has been cited as one reason why more people are visiting food banks. Although the Government denies setting a national target to cut a proportion of handouts, leaked reports from individual Jobcentres suggest that some targets have been set locally.

    Rachel Reeves, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “We have seen an exceptional rise in the proportion of people sanctioned – with one in four sanctions overturned on appeal. The Government has refused to provide any explanation of this increase – but numerous sources have reported that the increase is being driven by unofficial targets imposed on Jobcentres by the Department of Work and Pensions.

    “That’s why we have pledged that there will be no targets for sanctions under a Labour government, so that Jobcentre staff are focused on helping people into work, not simply finding reasons to kick them off benefits. We will also ensure that rules and decisions around sanctions are fair and properly communicated, and that the system of hardship payments is working properly.”


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    • *yawn* they wont do anything.

      I know this Blue Labour isn’t New Labour… but last time they vowed to revoke the Jobseekers Act 1995 and Jobseekers Allowance Regulations 1996… got the poor vote, didn’t do that.

      Didn’t scrap sanctions either. They added more and more sanction offences. If I recall correctly, they introduced sanctions for being late to sign on.

      They allowed third parties to raise sanctions on Flexible New Deal rather than the paperwork on New Deal to an adviser at the Jobcentre.

      It wont change.

      Conservatives created the framework. Labour tweaked it and added to it. Conservatives saw opportunity to make it much more stricter under excuse of austerity.

      What will Labour do? Tweak it again! Honestly… Social Security law is a mine field… I mentioned two laws above, one primary Act and one secondary Statutory Instrument (regulations) I remember researching it a few years ago… there are thousands upon thousands of laws relating to all things regarding social security and benefits.

      Universal Jobmatch

      December 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      • New Labour didn’t listen to a single word of criticism – which came in bucket-loads, particularly from the Northern English Unemployed Centres and the Committee that deals with these issues inside the TUC.

        Nor did they listen to the advice given by professional welfare specialists, and the radical wing of the voluntary sector.

        The only people they listened to were their own clique and the companies that became the ‘Unemployment Business’ – Welfare to Work.

        Now with those bastards living off the state they are part of the policy-making process themselves.

        That said, Cameron intends to wreak real havoc if he gets back into power.

        It’s like having a permanent money-making operation deciding how the welfare system should operate, tweaked only by IDS and his mates’ wish to do away with as much welfare, that is welfare rights – as possible.

        Andrew Coates

        December 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      • Hit the nail on the head.

        I also agree with your statement about Cameron wrecking havoc… all the Tory MPs are promising investment projects to their constituents and of course the national projects too… except what is on the cards, and is not kept secret, is in-short this parliamentary term was a test for austerity.

        The cuts for next term (should they get in or create another coalition with lib dems or ukip) is going to be much worse.

        For me that is a major dilemma of who to vote for. The Conservatives look very competent at causing havoc and screwing over poor people. Labour (shadow cabinet) looks very incompetent – a pretty poor line up IMO – although they wont reverse everything wrong with today’s policy, they will surely ease off many of the more severe policies and throw money at trying to fix it.


        CONSERVATIVE – Ben Gummer
        LABOUR – David Ellesmere

        I would never vote conservative and Ben has done nothing for this town except towing the party line, but there is no way I am voting for Mr Ellesmere.

        I will probably end up not voting or voting for the green party LOL

        Universal Jobmatch

        December 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      • David Ellesmere got the Borough Council to reject – in a formal statement – any involvement in Workfare.

        May 13th 2014.

        “Ipswich Borough Council will not take part in Government unpaid work schemes

        Ipswich Borough Council has confirmed that it will not offer unpaid work under the Government’s ‘Help to Work’ schemes, ramped up versions of which came into force at the end of April.

        Under the schemes, known as ‘workfare’, there are mandatory work activity and community work programmes in which benefit claimants are placed on 30-hour a week jobs without pay and with the threat of their benefits being removed. The mandatory work activity programme is for 4 weeks and community work placements for 6 months.

        It has also emerged recently that there could be sanctions for those who refuse to take a job on a zero-hours contract.

        Campaigners have been calling for the government to remove the schemes, which they say are not working and which lock people deeper into poverty.

        Today Ipswich Council has stated it will not be participating.

        Council Leader David Ellesmere said:

        “As a council we aim to be a good employer. That’s why we pay our staff the Living Wage and why we don’t employ staff on zero hours contracts.

        It’s right that if someone can work, then they should. But they should also be paid a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

        The effect of the Government’s unpaid work schemes will just be to undercut the wages of people already in work, adding to the cost of living crisis already affecting families in Ipswich.”

        Andrew Coates

        December 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm



        December 23, 2014 at 1:49 pm

  9. 😀

    Sanction Sheriff

    December 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

  10. General Election 2015: Kick Out The Coalition.

    Time until Thursday, 7 May 2015, 07:00:00.

    135 days – 15 hours – 30 minutes.


    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm

  11. Wonder if the “JSA Online Sheriff” is anything to do with universal jobshite?


    December 22, 2014 at 2:38 pm

  12. Jobcentre Cockup.

    Published on 15 Dec 2014.

    This video was uploaded from an Android phone.

    Here’s a nice little video filmed inside a Jobcentre regarding a group of unemployed people who were told to turn up to the Jobcentre at 9:15am when the Jobcentre didn’t open while 10:00am.

    Security wouldn’t let them in – Disgusting!

    I’m guessing it was a Wednesday, most JCP’s don’t open while 10:00am on a Wednesday.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    • Happened in Ipswich many years ago. 9.00am or 9.15am appointment and the jobcentre didn’t open until half-past, sometimes much later than that. Rather a joke when all the lights on, all the staff are there and security just watching out the windows… a huge gathering of people in “Jobless Square” (outside the main entrance, not Silent Street)

      I hated early sign-on times (signed off and on again to get a new appointment time) for this reason, people literally 7 or 8 wide squeezing through the space of 2 doors… and although there were “incidents” through the middle door upstairs (Door B?) it was generally less terrible than the main building which had longer waits and people waiting for NI numbers using up the limited seating… about 10 desks, only 2-3 being used at a time and sometimes just one.

      Its very naive to call it a “cockup”. It was no mistake. They feel like they can TEACH you to be punctual and Available for Work (AfW). You are in-effect begging in hand to get your benefits, so if they want you to queue up outside in the cold, they will make you do so. The truth is the majority of people meet all the conditions and wish they had work. Except, they look at it as THEIR (private sector workers taxes pay for them) taxes going to pay for you “jobless scroungers” (or similar phrase), so with middle management encouragement (DWP is really corrupt) they will mess you about for their own enjoyment. (Don’t like it? Sign off!)

      What should have happened is the group of affected people should have kicked the jobcentre advisers heads in, which would have happened in the 80s with a riot… It makes me smile that these people were peaceful in getting their point across. All I am saying is, if this DWP regime continues there will be a breaking-point where someone will die – could be an advisor, manager or security guard.

      You can only push people so far, two or three people are enough to catalytically create a situation where the jobcentre would be overpowered. The security guards wont be able to hold back 50-100+ people.

      Universal Jobmatch

      December 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm

  13. Stop MP lies and propaganda.

    Published on 10 Dec 2014.

    Jobcentre Staff speak out about sanction targets.

    Obi Wan Kenobi

    December 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    • How can Jobcentre Plus staff “speak out” if voices are all done by actors?

      Do they all think they are going to hell if they remain 100% content in their daily activities?

      No one is forced to work at Jobcentre Plus, and there is no excuse of “just doing my job”.

      You rarely get instances of jobseekers that remain absolutely anonymous.

      Until there can be accountability (i.e. with a whistleblower) of a statement to a person, its just hearsay and carry no weight to any particular argument. This said, other than that its an insightful video especially for the length of it.

      Universal Jobmatch

      December 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm

  14. You must not miss this latest epic Western “Pain” from the dream factory the DWP, produced by Idaho Dango Smyth and Scarlet McVile. Starring Jack Palance as the psychopathic Work Coach and Alan Ladd as the hapless Jobseeker.

    Work Coach : Pick up the pen and sign the Commitment.

    Jobseeker : I don’t wanna sign … you’ll sanction me.

    Work Coach : Pick up the pen.

    Jobseeker : I don’t want any trouble, mister. I just came down town to claim my benefit and buy my wife some gingham.

    Work Coach : Pick up that pen.

    (The Jobseeker reaches for the pen and signs the Commitment.)

    Work Coach : You all saw him, he gave his consent freely and now he’s sanctioned.


    December 22, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    • I look forward to watching the telly series…..

      Andrew Coates

      December 23, 2014 at 12:27 pm

  15. Tobanem

    December 23, 2014 at 9:43 am

  16. DWP loses another 3 FOI tribunal hearings and must now name Workfare exploiters:



    December 23, 2014 at 10:56 am

  17. Local Gov 22nd December

    “‘Punitive’ benefit curbs means bleak Christmas for 80,000 families

    Families hit by the Government’s ‘punitive and controversial’ benefits policy will lose an estimated £20m – £250 each on average – according to the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).

    Using DWP data, the union calculates 74,000 people will lose more than £19m in jobseeker’s allowance – an estimated 2,000% increase since the Christmas before the Coalition government took office.

    It says almost £700,000 in employment and support allowance is being taken away from 6,800 disabled people this month.

    PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: ‘There is no evidence that stopping people’s benefits improves their chances of finding long-term employment.

    ‘Many are being punished for simply turning up late to an interview or refusing to work for free for a profitable company on one of the government’s failing workfare schemes.

    ‘Use of these sanctions has spiraled in recent years, but they do nothing but heap blame and misery on some of the poorest in our society and they should be scrapped.’

    A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘We don’t recognise these figures. What the PCS Union fail to recognise is that sanctions are a necessary part of the benefits system, but they are used as a last resort in a tiny percentage of cases where people don’t play by the rules.

    ‘There are no targets for sanctions and in fact there were fewer sanctions this year compared to last year. We also have a well-established system of hardship payments for benefit claimants who have little or no other resources available to them.’


    Andrew Coates

    December 23, 2014 at 4:33 pm

  18. Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating.


    December 23, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    • BBC =nonsence


      December 28, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      • pcs = nonsence


        December 28, 2014 at 11:52 pm

  19. Jesus wept, I’ve been listening to R4 all week and this is the first I’ve heard about this. Surely the BBC would have been all over this like a rash ? Just joking by the way !


    December 28, 2014 at 8:08 pm

  20. Didn’t see this at the time…

    A man who applied for more than 60 jobs in a fortnight while protesting against “draconian and demeaning” government policies has been sanctioned by his local jobcentre – for not searching for “broader” employment.

    Peter Styles, a copywriter and public relations executive who has been unemployed for a year, says he writes up to 15 job applications a day – even applying at the request of jobcentre staff to be a “personal shopper” and “grocery colleague” at local supermarkets.

    However, he said his mistake was to have “voiced my opposition to government policies which I thought were unhelpful and meant to keep you down … I have a good work record and was really trying hard. But the process is patronising and staff can be unhelpful”.


    I had the same, as soon as they knew (well: assumed) I was behind IUA and NDS, the DWP went into action…

    Universal Jobmatch

    January 3, 2015 at 2:51 pm

  21. “Thanks to the Bar Council for allowing us to use their Representing yourself in court guide – you can download the guide as a PDF HERE”



    January 8, 2015 at 8:34 pm

  22. Reblogged this on nearlydead.


    February 4, 2015 at 10:53 am

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