Sanctions are used as a last resort

Andy Booth made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

I am seeking information about benefit sanctions being instigated as a last resort, to quote

Please could you email Jobcentre's staff guidance or manuals that mention this last resort.

Yours faithfully,

Andy Booth

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Good afternoon Mr Booth,
Please find attached the reply to your recent Freedom of Information
request reference number 76:
Thank you
DWP Freedom of Information Team

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M Boyce left an annotation ()

The DWP has provided you with a largely inaccurate reply.

They say:
'If a claimant refuses or fails to comply with any requirement placed on them, they are given the opportunity to provide their reasons for not complying.'
Yes, but often only AFTER the sanction has been imposed as a FIRST resort.
For instance, if the DWP send a claimant an adviser interview letter through the post, and which gets lost in the post, and then the claimant doesn't turn up for this interview because they simply didn't know about it, then that claimant is instantly sanctioned as a FIRST resort. This happens regularly.
The DWP then go on to say:
'Where the claimant demonstrates they had good reason, a sanction is not applied.'
Often, absolutely untrue. in the example above the DWP just say they sent out the letter, and if the claimant didn't receive it then it is the claimant's fault and the sanctioned stands.
Then the DWP says:
' Where a potential sanction is identified, the details are referred to an INDEPENDENT Decision Maker to consider whether or not the claimant had good reason.'
Total nonsense. Sanction decisions are referred to Decision Makers who work WITHIN the DWP - how is that independent? Only if a claimant decides to take their appeal to tribunal, does it become independent, and only then are the DWP made to abide by the rules and to play fair.
The DWP sanction regime under the ConDem Government has turned the law in this country on its head. The claimant now has to prove their innocence, and the DWP does not have to prove the claimants guilt - the burden of proof has been illegally and unfairly placed onto the sanctionee. Sanctions are being applied totally unfairly by the DWP as a way of saving the Government money and as a way of bashing the poor for the financial mess that governments and bankers have left this country in.

M Boyce