Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘benefit sanctions

Welfare ‘Reform’: More Misery, More Hardship, and More Deaths.

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More details: National day of action against benefit sanctions Thursday 30 March 2017 at 07:00-20:00.


Psychologists say sanctions regime is “undermining mental health and wellbeing” and causing destitution, hardship, and widespread anxiety. Reports Welfare Weekly.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has joined forces with other psychological bodies to call on the UK Government to suspend its cruel and degrading benefit sanctions regime.

BPS says the benefit sanctions regime, where vulnerable people can have payments docked for weeks or months at a time for failing to adhere to often unreasonable requirements, does not help people back to work and damages their mental health.

The call comes in response to the Government’s ‘Improving Lives’ consultation and following a recent report from the National Audit Office, which found there is little evidence to prove sanctions encourage people to look for work or offer value for money to taxpayers.

Benefit sanctions can also result in destitution, hardship, widespread anxiety and feelings of disempowerment, the psychologists say.

Welfare Weekly also reports,

Welfare reform is killing people, but the Tory press don’t want you to know

Rising numbers of deaths all linked to the ongoing welfare reforms remain unreported.

The manipulation of the British public is not difficult to achieve when the entire national press and media resist alerting the nation to the realities behind the ongoing welfare reforms.

The future demolition of the UK welfare state was planned long ago by a previous Tory government, and the 2008 banking crisis was simply the excuse needed to permit the demolition of the welfare state to begin.

Introduced in the UK by Thatcher, toxic neoliberal politics has swept the world where cash, not care, is deemed to be a virtue and the driver of national success, regardless of human consequences.

What remains unreported are the rising numbers of deaths all linked to the ongoing welfare reforms, numbering in excess of 100,000 chronically sick and disabled people since January 2011, as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) once again refuse to publish the updated mortality totals.

One aspect of the sanctions regime that is extremely cruel is its use against disabled people, which comes as part of a ‘package’ of regressive measures.

This article from the Guardian is a timely reminder,

The truth behind rising disabled employment: cuts, death and zero-hour contracts

 The disability employment gap is narrowing, but this is against a backdrop of sanctions, funding cuts and insecure employment.

2016 figures showed that more than half of disabled people who appealed their “fit to work” assessment eventually got the decision overturned.

“We’re still seeing some really worrying things coming out of those assessments,” says Ayaz Manji from the mental health charity Mind. “There’s a lot of really poor decision-making. Lots of the people who make those assessments don’t understand mental health.

“We’ve seen people who’ve been denied the benefit because they’ve been described as ‘well-groomed’, or ‘able to look somebody in the eye’. But obviously those things aren’t a good indication of whether someone has a serious mental health problem that’s affecting their ability to work. Often the support that people get is quite generic and doesn’t really take their mental health into account.”

Employment gap

The chaos surrounding the assessments comes amid a government drive to get more disabled people into work. But although charities and activists share that ambition, they accuse the government of acting counterproductively, with a punitive agenda of sanctions and funding cuts.

In 2015, the Treasury claimed: “increasing employment levels among people with disabilities and health conditions is a key part of the government’s aim to achieve full employment.” Specifically, the government aims to “halve the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people”.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

Sanctions: Channel Four Dispatches Blows the Lid on Attacks on the Vulnerable.

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Last Night’s Benefits Crackdown by Channel Four’s Dispatches was essential viewing.

It came as this report (signaled by Unemployed in Tyne and Wear) was published.

100,000 Children Affected By Benefit Sanctions In 2013/14

A new report from a coalition of major UK Churches has revealed that around 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions in 2013/14.

It also shows that in the same period a total of nearly 7 million weeks of sanctions were handed out to benefit claimants.

The new data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, will feature in this evening’s episode of Channel 4’sDispatches, entitled ‘Britain’s Benefits Crackdown’.

The report, entitled Time to Rethink Benefit Sanctions, is published today by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Church Action on Poverty, the Church in Wales, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church. It contains new data on the severity and length of sanctions under Welfare Reform, and on how sanctions affect vulnerable groups such as children and those with mental health problems.

More here.

The PCS Trade Union also issued a press release on Monday.

Cost to claimants of benefit sanctions rockets by 3,000%

The cost to claimants of having their social security payments stopped under this government’s controversial sanctions regime has rocketed by 3,000%, analysis by the Public and Commercial Services union shows.

Using Department for Work and Pensions data, the union has calculated the value of jobseeker’s allowance payments sanctioned in the year to September 2014 (the latest for which figures are available) was £355 million, compared to £11 million in 2009/2010.

This massive rise explains why sanctions have been so closely linked to the increase in the use of foodbanks, the union says.

The new figures come ahead of a Dispatches investigation to be broadcast this evening into the government’s sanctions regime that was stepped up in October 2012.

Under the stricter system, the length of time sanctions can be imposed for has increased, with the minimum set at four weeks, rising to 13 weeks and up to three years.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This government is imposing much harsher penalties on people who rely on social security at the same time as seeking to blame and vilify them for being out of work.

“Sanctions do nothing to help unemployed people find sustainable jobs. They only poison the relationship between claimants and jobcentre staff, and they should be scrapped immediately.”

ENDS

The Programme on Channel Four was very effective.

As the Mirror noted,

“In a probe for Channel 4’s Dispatches, two Job Centre whistleblowers tell how they were forced to “hammer” claimants with sanctions to meet Government targets. Alan Davies, who quit Leicester Job Centre, said: “They weren’t willing to look at them as human beings.”

There was also the case of a man, in considerable pain and previously on on Disability. Support Allowance, left to fend for himself on no money, after being sanctioned

Here is the information on the Dispatches site.

In October 2012, the coalition introduced a new stricter sanctions regime. Benefits can now be suspended for up to three years– or reduced indefinitely for people claiming Employment and Support Allowance.

Channel 4 Dispatches has investigated how the stricter sanctions regime affects some vulnerable claimants and has interviewed former Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) staff who claim that there are targets for sanctions despite the government’s constant assurances that there are no targets.

New exclusive figures:

  • Latest figures show 93,000 children were affected by sanctions over 12 months.[1](opens in a new window) The DWP told us they do not recognise these figures.
  • Of DWP ‘peer reviews’ of 49 deaths following sanctions or when claimants had their benefit cut, 40 were carried out following a suicide or apparent suicide.
  • 33 of those reviews/enquiries resulted in ‘recommendations’ at national or local level.

The DWP has refused to provide details of the individual cases or the recommendations. They told Channel 4 Dispatches that they carry out reviews to work out if anything should have done differently. They say, carrying out a review does not automatically mean the department was at fault and that it would be highly inappropriate to publish private documents containing extremely personal information.[2](opens in a new window)

Whistleblowers:
Channel 4 Dispatches has interviewed two whistleblowers from a Job Centre in Leicester who say they were subject to targets and had to “hammer” people. Both men have been named and identified on camera.
– Ian Wright, a former work coach, gave written evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee Inquiry.
– Alan Davies, a former personal adviser, has never spoken publicly before.

Ian was sacked by the Job Centre, while Alan resigned. Both were given Performance Improvement Plans for not giving claimants enough Job Seeker’s Directions. These are the ‘early warnings’ before sanctions are handed out.

Ian Wright says: “It was the management’s policy to drive up sanctions. From my experience they’re more interested in getting the paperwork right and meeting targets than helping the claimants get the benefits that Parliament decree they should do and sometimes sadly vulnerable people miss out.”

“There are or were certain advisors who would try and wind up customers, not give them the full information.”
Alan Davies says: “The pressure was enormous. I just felt that what they were asking me to do was totally wrong. They were asking me to hammer people who were quite, in their own way doing the best that they can to get a job.”

“Well sanction them, to make sure if you’re not doing exactly what we want, they weren’t willing to look at them as human beings.”
“I felt basically it was both ethically and morally wrong.”

The DWP told Channel 4 Dispatches: “There are no targets for sanctions – in fact the number of sanctions has gone down over the past year.”

The Channel Four site adds the facts which contradict this bald-faced lying:

Statistics

Since the tougher sanctions regime was introduced in October 2012, more than one and a half million benefit payments have been affected.[3](opens in a new window)

A DWP spokesperson told Channel 4 Dispatches:

“Every day Jobcentre Plus advisers work hard to help claimants into work – unemployment is falling and a record number of people are in work. Sanctions are only used as a last resort for the tiny minority who fail to take up the support which is on offer.”

We learnt then, from the DWP,  that there are no “targets” for sanctions, just “aspirations”.

 Ipswich Protest at New Sanction Factory: Maximus. 

Sheriff style badges for Jobcentres meeting benefit sanction targets

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Seetec the new A4e?

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Seetec (South East Essex TEchnology Centre) is a relatively local “training” organisation that has become a significant workfare player in recent years. Their wikipedia page states their success of seeking 4,417 benefit sanctions to “Work Programme conscripts” in just a single week. They use the Provider Direct sanction hotline more than any other provider. Read the rest of this entry »

Call for Inquiry in Benefit Sanctions.

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Nearly every time I go into the local Job Centre I hear about sanctions, people complaining, staff asking their colleagues what they should do to sanction somebody.

So it’s no surprise that this letter in today’s Guardian caught my eye,

 

Call an inquiry into benefit sanctions

Your report about targets for benefit sanctions makes disturbing reading (Whistleblower says DWP staff given targets to stop benefits, 10 December). The Department for Work and Pensions recently announced that there were 553,000 benefit sanctions between November 2012, when the new sanctions regime started, and June 2013. This is an extraordinarily high rate and compares with an average of 300,000 a year between 2001 and 2210, according to the New Policy Institute.

Sanctions have been a necessary feature of the National Insurance system since its inception, but recently they have become far too prevalent. They often deprive people of financial support for trivial reasons – eg a blind man for not going after a cleaning job, or a man who failed to sign on when he was on a DWP training programme. A survey by Greater Manchester Citizens Advice found that two-thirds of those sanctioned were left without any income. The rapid expansion offood banks is partly due to benefit sanctions.

As a former senior manager of UK jobcentre services, I am sure that the present high rates are driven from the top in some way by performance management systems. Are ministers unaware of the vast literature about the demoralising effects of prolonged unemployment? Sanctions on this scale increase debt, demoralisation and despair and make people less rather than more job ready. Ian Duncan Smith should agree to the proposal from Church Action on Poverty, the Trussell Trust and the Child Poverty Action Group for a wide-ranging independent inquiry into benefit sanctions and their effects.
David Price
Sheffield

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

December 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm

DWP Corruption: LMS Directgov Jobs ripped apart!

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Sister site Work Programme Network, has spilled the beans on:

  • Why is Jobcentre Plus’ job database so poor in quality?
  • Why does Jobcentre Plus’ fail/refuse to improve such service or listen to feedback from its users?
  • Why do Jobcentre Plus issue Jobseeker Directions solely for jobs advertised on their job system?
  • Why does most jobs require an fully identified enquiry to Jobcentre Plus to get details of how to apply?
  • Why does Jobcentre Plus ask (sometimes multiple times) whether you have applied for each (and every) job they know you have received details about?

It is the “jobseeker job denial scam trap“. The Labour Market System might appear to be the official job database “to help you find work” but the reality is so very different!  Read the rest of this entry »

YMCA Training have great powers to sanction

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Flexible New Deal scandal has published a list of job titles at Flexible New Deal providers who have the powers to raise sanction doubts which highlights the powers YMCA Training has over participants. Read the rest of this entry »