Friday, 22 March 2013

More from the Guardian on targets for sanctions

Well done to the Guardian for keeping on the case of the sanctions targets and league tables, because no one else seems to be interested in what should be seen as hugely important.
Yesterday the paper revealed a leaked email from a Jobcentre manager proving that there were targets for punishing people by stopping their benefits.  Mark Hoban denied there were any such targets.  Today the Guardian follows this up with a denial from Iain Duncan Smith.  "There are no targets for any sanctions whatsoever", he says, and staff will be reminded of that.  He said that "the order not to employ targets had gone out to jobcentre staff on innumerable occasions".
There's a sense of deja vu about this.  A full year ago the Guardian revealed that there were targets for sanctions.  IDS said that the report was "claptrap" but then the DWP admitted that it was happening.  So twelve months on, it's still happening.  And Duncan Smith and Hoban either know it is and are not telling the truth; or they genuinely didn't know and their civil servants are running rings round them.  Either way, the victims are ignored - except by the Guardian, which has a short film about what happens to them.
There's a parallel with the denials that there are targets for Atos to get people onto ESA, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  Maybe there's a problem with IDS's definition of "targets".


  1. How did the comment on Panorama go? Thieving,lying Ba$tards...not only are our MP's the worst benefit cheats,when caught out they try to shift the guilt on anybody but themselves.

  2. The DWP acknowledged last year in a published report that sanction targets where in operation: 80% approvals for sanction referrals and competence being questioned if it dropped below 60%. See link for free download of report mid way down page.

    1. The direct link for the DWP report "Work Programme evaluation:
      Findings from the first phase of qualitative research on
      programme delivery - N0 821"

      The relevant passage (p. 87) reads:
      "Decision Makers outlined that they were working towards a target of 80 per cent of approval of sanctions referrals, but that their work would be called into question if the approval rate sank below
      60 per cent. Some Decision Makers indicated that most of their sanctions were for two weeks’ duration, rather than for the longer periods that could be applied. This is consistent with the providers’ accounts (noted earlier) that failure to attend the initial appointment comprises a high proportion of referrals for sanctioning."

  3. So far, Southampton JCP, where I sign on, have not been unreasonable about sanctioning JSA claimants as far as I know. They have not tried to claim that Universal Jobmatch is “mandatory,” either. The Manager of Southampton JCP seems to be a mature, sensible lady, from what I’ve seen about the ways Southampton JCP seems to be managed.

    Recently, however, Southampton JCP have altered their signing on procedures for JSA claimants who are also Work Programme customers, like me. I asked A4E (my own WP provider) whether they knew anything about the altered arrangements for signing on at Southampton JCP?

    A few days later, I then had a routine meeting with my A4E adviser. He said that he had contacted the JCP, who had told him that they don’t understand why they have been told to change their signing on procedures.

    The A4E chap said that it sounded to him as if the DWP are probably experimenting with different ideas about signing on at the JCPs. A4E’s information is that the new arrangements at Southampton JCP are not being used in other JCP offices in other parts of the UK.

    I suspected at the time – and I am almost certain of it now, thanks to the Guardian – that the DWP are under considerable political pressure to try to sanction as many JSA claimants as possible, as savagely as possible, regardless of whether or not “good cause” can be shown by the claimant.

    This is not “justice.” It is nothing but a kangaroo court with IDS acting as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, it seems to me.

    I’m now waiting for Michael Spencer, the solicitor who works for the Child Poverty Action Group, to say something about this week’s developments on the CPAG website.

  4. Misplaced Government Expenditure..

    Just an aside which is "p -ing me off" and that is the £150 million of public money which has been designated to the redevelopment of the Olympic Stadium for West Ham football club. (They only pay £15 million.)

    1. That £150m could have been used to pay what they have unlawfully sanctioned!
      @ Judi There have been a number of local experiments with signing on for WP victims. Some time ago the office where I sign did a sort of "drop your form here" with no fixed appointment time, just a fortnightly day to attend. This was great as it cut down waiting time and ruled out the possibility of being late (unless you missed the day altogether!). I am sure it was a local initiative as the form wasn't well designed, in spite of several versions being produced in its limited lifetime.
      The experiment finished without explanation and normal interview signing on has now been resumed.
      P.S. Sorry for my abrupt departure from UM site - someone other than IDS can have a hissy fit!
      I too look forward to CPAG's reaction. I just hope that people don't give up the fight against these unlawful sanctions.


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