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

Politics and Insights

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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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