Right-of-centre thinktank Policy Exchange has said that almost 70,000 job seekers have had their benefits withdrawn unfairly.
Policy Exchange have said that almost a third of all people who break their hob search conditions for the first time have had their benefits removed by mistake and consequently face unnecessary hardship as a result, reports the Guardian.
Guy Miscampbell, the author of the Policy Exchange report, said: “It is clear that there are a significant number of people who have their benefit taken away from them unfairly. Four weeks without any money is driving people to desperate measures including a reliance on food banks”.
The report suggests: “With some 874,000 adverse decisions being made between October 2012 and September 2013, and over 146,000 of them being successfully appealed or reconsidered it is clear that the possibility of wrongly applied sanctions, and what their effects might be, is an important one. With some estimates suggesting that 43% of those referred to food banks are there due to benefit stoppage or being refused a crisis loan, it is clear that there is not currently an adequate safety net for those who are wrongly sanctioned”.
Policy Exchange suggests that issuing first time offenders with a ‘yellow card’ in the form of a benefits card would be a more compassionate way of trying to help people back into work. Through this card benefits would be accessed for a maximum of eight weeks. If the claimant continues to breach job search conditions the card and benefits will be removed.
The report also suggests more stringent penalties for people who consistently break the terms of their job search requirements. They suggest repeat offenders should have their benefits taken away for a longer period of time, from 13 to 26 weeks for a third breach.
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