The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has reported critically on the sanctions regime. The Committee recommends that
- sanctions should stop for people who do not have capacity for work
- there should not be in-work sanctions on UC until the system is fully operational
- deductions should not be more than the benefit
- there should be clear rules about what is a good reason for non-compliance
- there should be warnings before the first sanction, and
- families with young children should not have more than 20% of benefit deducted.
They accept that “Sanctions must be a last resort and claimants should be able to challenge the decision before it is imposed.” That alone would make a marked difference to current practice.
This could have gone further. The DWP has no evidence about the effects of sanctions in most cases, and the Committee asks them to get some. That looks like a recipe for delay, because there’s no shortage of other evidence. Looking over the recommendations, the Committee clearly sees no good reason to sanction people who have no prospect or reason to go to work instead – and that is the vast majority of people who depend on ‘working age’ benefits.
Additional note, 24th November: Michael Adler has posted a detailed summary and critique of the Committee’s report.