400,000 Made Destitute By New JSA Sanctions Regime

jcp-signThe new sanctions regime for jobseekers, which can see benefits stopped for up to three years, has hit over 400,000 people in the 9 months from October 2012 to June 2013. 48,000 people have had benefits stopped for 3 years, a number which will increase hugely as people sanctioned for the first or second time get caught out again by an increasingly kafkaesque benefit system and the new claimant commitment.

Esther McVey, the minister for employment reckons that sanctions were only used against those who were “wilfully rejecting support for no good reason”, but we know that this isn’t true and have compiled a list of truly ridiculous sanctions which has also been turned into a tumblr page, to keep track and raise awareness of the sometimes bizarre circumstances under which sanctions are applied.

JCP advisors have targets to meet and face performance reviews if they aren’t sanctioning enough people. A local job centre even offered an easter egg as a prize to the advisor who referred the most people for sanctions, and management are doing as much as they can do get claimants sanctioned, even breaking regulations to do this.

Somehow it is thought that sanctions help people to find work. Quite how someone left with no money is meant to clean, maintain or buy clothes for interviews, or pay for travel for interviews or pay for internet access to look for jobs (Wolverhampton libraries are set to introduce a charge for internet usage) or any of the other multitude of things that cost money and are needed to be done to have any chance of finding a job seems to be an unanswered question.

Once again we face the problem that the idiots in charge of employment policy seem to think that the problem is that people aren’t doing enough to look for work, when really the problem is that there isn’t enough work around to look for. Without enough jobs for everyone all you are doing with sanctions is making people destitute or pushing them into crime, stealing food because they’ve no money to buy it. Gas or Electric for heating can’t really be stolen and if you’re on a card meter you can’t even go into debt to keep warm in the coming cold months. Some will find themselves homeless as housing benefit is wrongly stopped (if you get sanctioned and your HB is stopped, you need to file a Nil Income claim). In a report to Birmignham City Council last year, Sifa Fireside said that they are increasingly seeing HB stopped when sanctions are applied.

This is a truly horrendous situation unfolding in front of us with hundreds of thousands of families affected. We must fight back against sanctions and the neo-liberal view of unemployment, and work towards getting back a comprehensive social security system that ensures support for everyone and an attitude that jobs must be created to reduce unemployment. If you want to help with this, get in touch with the Birmingham Claimants’ Union, or join Unite Community Union or SolFed.


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14 responses to “400,000 Made Destitute By New JSA Sanctions Regime

  1. Not sure if this is of interest to anyone but I recently came upon some information about the ‘good reason’ part of the sanction regime (ie fact that you are supposed to show good reason to avoid a sanction) from a conversation with a DWP Decision Maker. Put simply, i’ve been told that, despite fact that claimants are sent a ‘Good Reason’ letter as part of sanctioning process where they are asked to provide their reasons for not participating in a Work Prog activity (if this is reason for sanction), this information is completely ignored by DWP. Their decision to sanction is based completely on the ‘balance of probabilities’ – ie looking at your situation in theoretical way, was the decision you made justified? Put another way, it seems that views of claimants count for nothing in this process – sanctions are being automatically generated by default once a report is received from Work Prog provider and only that information will be taken into account by the DM. I have put this to them on numerous occasions (through various requests for reconsideration etc) but after numerous challenges ( 1 of which did succeed – but only insofar as getting period of sanction reduced) I have now come off JSA completely since i reckon this is probably only way to stop the process in its tracks.

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » 400,000 Made Destitute By New JSA Sanctions Regime

  3. defytheeconomy

    Reblogged this on defytheeconomy.

  4. Pingback: 48,000 claimants on 3 year sanctions! | Birmingham Claimants Union

  5. Pingback: Ask Your MP To Support Early Day Motion 686 – Sanctions At Sparkhill Job Centre | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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  7. beastrabban

    Truly disgusting, and deeply disturbing for anyone truly concerned with the welfare of the unemployed.

  8. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    the headline for this post by Birmingham Against the Cuts is slightly misleading. The post itself does not actually give the figures for the numbers of people made homeless due to their benefit being stopped by the DWP. The 400,000 people referred to in the post’s title are simply number, whose benefits have been sanctioned. This in itself is disgusting. Even more worrying is the fact that, of these, 48,000 have been hit by the maximum sanction of three years. The article then rebuts the argument by the employment minister, Esther McVey, that these sanctions have only been used against those who ‘wilfully refused to be helped’. They cite Sifa Fireside’s statement that benefit sanctions are frequently accompanied by the stoppage of Housing Benefit. The complete loss of their income from benefits, as the post points out, means that many people will be unable to afford to look for work or properly prepare for a job interview, should they get one. It also means more people will be forced into crime simply to be able to eat. It also means that many will find themselves unable to pay for electricity, gas or water, and so will face having these cut off. The article includes a link to a tumblr page giving some of the daft and arbitrary reasons claimants have been given by the Job Centre for cutting off their benefits. To add insult to injury, the article also reports that many Job Centres have not only instructed their employees to sanction as many claimants as possible, but have also provided prizes, like an Easter Egg, to those, who have sanctioned the most people. The article concludes that we urgently need to challenge the current Neo-Liberal economic orthodoxy, and return to the view that unemployment can only be combatted through creating jobs. We also need to return to a social security system that actually provides support for the unemployed. The post finally ends with three links that readers can use to get in touch with organisations fighting the cuts.

  9. steve

    I can vouch that this is a national issue as I am currently claiming in the Crewe job centre plus and my advisor had been telling me for weeks not to worry if I struggle to find jobs as long as I am looking and meet my minimum job search criteria directions which is 3 jobs per weeks looking on 4 sites a day(only 2 of them ever bring up anything of use) looking in a local paper once a week and handing out c/v to make up a total of 21 steps per week then one week when I had indeed met the minimum she sent it off to a decision maker who sanctioned me and further still another decision maker has turned down my reconsideration.

    But that’s not the worst it seems as if my advisor is trying to put yet another sanction down for “not actively seeking work” despite the fact over the fortnight i sent of 6 cv’s 12 job applications and visited a total of 54 websites (21 job search and 6 company websites per week) over the fortnight.

    one hope was my local mp who has refered the case to the DWP sectary of state … oh wait thats Iain Duncan smith the man who jokingly remarked on april the 1st he could live of 53 pounds a week in reply to a man saying he was struggling to cope.

  10. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs and commented:
    Nov 2013. Still true.

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