GMWRAG recommends…

GMWRAG recommends this blog by Rightsnet contributor Sarah Batty. You can read the full article at but the title “Social Insecurity: a Welfare Rights Advice Perspective” should give you enough of a taste to know what’s coming.

You can also follow Sarah on Twitter @sarah_batty.

If anyone wants to blog similarly for GMWRAG on matters of welfare rights please contact us.

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.

DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.

In 2014 a Task Force comprised of Salfords Financial Inclusion Practitioners Group in Salford was invited by the Chair of the Skills and Work Board to produce a report into the impact of DWP conditionality and benefit sanctions in Salford. An interim report was produced in August 2014; endorsed by the Skills and Work Board and publicly launched in October 2014.

The conclusions of that report will surprise no-one. The threat and use of sanctions help no-one to move into work but do cause damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution. Furthermore, public and voluntary sector organisations were increasingly having to step in to support claimants in crisis due to sanctions but also benefit delays. This added to the strain on resources when faced with local government budget cuts.

It was recognised that the impacts of welfare reform were only just emerging so it was agreed an additional report would be produced after a period of at least 12 months had elapsed and particularly following the introduction of Universal Credit. That report can now be viewed here. Again, the conclusions should surprise no-one.

It was launched in Salford on Monday the 23rd of May 2016 at an event which included keynote speakers

JobcentrePlus were also in attendance.

We thought GMWRAG members would have an interest in all aspects of this subject.