Sanctions report goes viral.

Following on from yesterdays flurry of posts on sanctions we are pleased to note that the Salford report “DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.” has now gone viral nationally. In what The Independent is claiming as an “exclusive” titled “Benefit sanctions lead claimants to suicide, crime and destitution, warns damning report”

Ashley Cowburn (@ashcowburn) writes that “Contrary to the DWP’s insistence that the threat of sanctioning encourages social security claimants to move from benefits into work, the system at present causes “damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution”, the report’s authors claim.”

“The report says that the rate of people being sanctioned in the area has not reduced over the previous 12 month period. But, critically, it adds: “Register sizes are decreasing and we believe this is in part due to a growing number of ‘disappeared’. These are claimants who drop their benefit claim or who move off benefit but do not take up employment. The Government has refused to publish destination data.”

DWP have now been forced into a response to the report which says little more than “A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “It’s only right that there are conditions attached to receiving benefits – this is nothing new. Sanctions are a long-standing part of the welfare system and are only applied where people fail to engage with the support on offer.”

This neglected to mention that, whilst historically sanctions have formally been around since the Poor Laws they were usually directed at preventing people relying upon the state, or, somewhat ironically aimed at local communities failing to fulfill what we would now characterise as their big society” obligations. Compare and contrast this to the scenario nowadays where sanctioning claimants is rife but the sanctioning of work providers usually involves the award of another contract.

At the time of writing the article has been shared nearly 700 times and has attracted more than 200 comments. Feel free to add to that as, as ever, the comments section can make for depressing reading. This is an important message and we need to get people hearing it and acting.