Charity finds benefit sanctions regime to be flawed
A charity has sad that a map revealing how benefit sanctions are enforced unevenly over the country is evidence that the regime is “flawed”.
A report conducted for Crisis by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University found that benefit claimants were subject to a ‘postcode lottery’ on whether or not their benefits would be reduced as a penalty for not finding work, reports Inside Housing.
‘Around half of all “reconsidered” decisions are overturned and many JCP (Job Centre Plus) advisor referrals for sanction do not result in an adverse decision, suggesting that, on the front line, unfair and inappropriate decisions are being made,’ the report said.
The study also found that homeless people were disproportionately hit by benefit sanctions.
Currently sanctions only apply to JSA claims and employment and support allowance, not housing benefit. However once universal credit begins sanctions could have an impact on social landlord rent arrears in the future.
According to statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions, jobseeker allowance sanctions under the coalition government rose to a high of 91,457 in October 2013 – the highest figure in any month since 2000. This was more than double the 44,218 figure in October 2009. Yet, since this date there is also evidence that the number of JSA sanctions has dropped dramatically – there were 51,142 decisions to apply sanction in September last year.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “The government has assured us that benefit sanctions are only for those who refuse to play by the rules. But evidence is mounting of a punitive and deeply flawed regime.”
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