A number of third sector organisations have submitted evidence to the review of sanctions being conducted by Matthew Oakley for the government. Their responses are not being made public routinely, so CPAG has collected information about them and published a list of links. The submissions offer a long series of examples of clumsy, unreasonable, often self-contradictory directions to claimants:
Claimant had learning difficulties and had been sent on a work placement to a charity shop. When he got there it had closed down. He was sanctioned for ‘failing to engage with his work placement’. (NAWRA submission)
A South of Scotland CAB reports of a client who moved from ESA to JSA 8 weeks ago. He has now received a four week sanction for not logging on to the JSA website 5 times a week and not approaching 10 potential employers. He has no internet at home or on his phone, and struggles with the cost of travelling into the nearest town each day to access a computer. He was not allowed to log on the day he attended the interview. (Citizens Advice Scotland)
Caller N was told by her JCP adviser that she was sanctioned because she was not actively seeking work, but she was under a training programme with a major retailer at the time. (Gingerbread)
The Homeless Link submission points to consequent problems with Housing Benefit, rent arrears, service charge arrears, obstacles to resettling clients and eviction notices.
“The over-riding picture”, the submission by the National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers comments, ” … is one of sanctions being applied inappropriately, without proper consultation and without proper notification.” Reading through the submissions, what comes over is not so much evidence of determined action to discipline claimants as a sorry tale of arbitrary and ill-explained procedures, implemented haphazardly by agencies who have been instructed to sanction people more actively.