It’s time to abolish “purely punitive” benefit sanctions

Politics and Insights


Iain Duncan Smith has recently announced that harsh benefit sanctions system will be made less aggressive in response to criticism  from a parliamentary select committee. 

The Work and Pensions Secretary said that people subjected to sanctions would from now on initially be given a “yellow card” or warning when the sanction – a benefit deduction – was triggered.

People would then be given a 14 day period to provide evidence of why a sanction was not deserved before the monetary penalty was applied. The onus is on the person claiming benefits to provide evidence and account of any “non-compliance” with the strict codes of “conditionality”, which is a now fundamental part of eligibility for social security.

However, widely criticised decisions  include people being sanctioned for missing jobcentre appointments because they had to attend a job interview, or people sanctioned for not looking for work because they had already secured a…

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