Petition update

Sanctions Update – Change at the DWP?

Gill Thompson
Stevenage, United Kingdom

Mar 29, 2016 — The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan-Smith sensationally quit the Cabinet.
In his closing speech he said, “I am incredibly proud of the welfare reforms undertaken…. and truly believe that we have made changes that will greatly improve things…. He went on to state however that the latest changes to benefits for the disabled were "a compromise too far”.

Has he suddenly developed a conscience on something which he has presided over for the last 6 years?

We know the UN is investigating the British Government on human rights abuses caused by Duncan-Smith’s welfare “reforms”.

Duncan-Smith just before his resignation said: “75% of all those who have been sanctioned claimed it helped them focus and get on”. This statement led to him being reported to the Official Statistics Watchdog. For more detail please see links below:

Now what? - The government will continue with ongoing benefit cuts, including the draconian sanctions which hits the most vulnerable in our society. Are we really “all in this together” - I think not

We are constantly told how successful and fair the procedures that are in place are.
I very much feel that this is not the case and would like to share some findings with you from Dr David Webster (University of Glasgow) who spoke at the 2015 Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry, which proposed 26 recommendations.
Dr Webster (see no. 23) pointed out the loss of income that sanctions can lead to is now twice the maximum that can be imposed in fines by the courts. - 16th February
This is a very large report and I have picked out a few of the points that may be of interest to you.

• The Coalition/Conservative governments have pushed up the overall proportion of JSA referrals which result in a sanction by 19% (62% to 81%).
The proportion of sanction challenges which are successful is over 70% for JSA and 50% for ESA (see Page 2)
• An estimated 62,000 sanctions were overturned in the 12 months to September 2015 via reviews, reconsiderations or appeals. This is where the claimant’s payments will have been stopped for weeks or months only to be refunded later. This figure peaked at 153,000 in the year to March 2014. (see Page 6)

There has never been clearer evidence that more JSA claimants must challenge their sanctions.

The government talk about savings, but how much public money is misused by inefficiency?
I believe this could amount to £m’s of public money misused, not including the horrendous suffering and pain of being sanctioned in the first place.

Repeat sanctions
During 2014/15 284,000 JSA claimants sanctioned and 24% were sanctioned more than once,
Incredibly over 1,000 JSA claimants were sanctioned ten or more times.
Of the 16,000 ESA claimants sanctioned, 27% were sanctioned more than once, 13%, three times or more.

It might be thought that because ESA WRAG claimants are agreed to be too ill to work the DWP may be more reluctant to subject them to repeated sanctions.
Figure 6 shows that this is not the case. ESA claimants are in fact more likely than JSA claimants to be sanctioned repeatedly. (see Page 7)

The Department of Work and Pensions revealed that 2,380 people have died within 6 weeks of being declared ‘fit to work’ by the government between 2011 and 2014.

We need The Government and the DWP to seriously look at the sanction regime and their benefit procedures.
Only a full Independent Review and the implementation of all 26 recommendations from the Select Parliamentary Inquiry in March 15 I feel will begin to end the suffering.

I will update you into the proceedings requesting an inquest into my Brother David’s death (as a reminder please see the link below).

Thanks once again for your great support.

Together we can ensure a fairer system in the way the government treats vulnerable people in the future.

best Gill

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