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".