Sanctions as a last resort

Mr Harris made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Department for Work and Pensions did not have the information requested.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

DWP people frequently say that sanctions are a "last resort" A few examples:

"Benefit sanctions are only used as a last resort and the overwhelming majority of claimants do not receive a sanction"
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/j...

``In a letter to the committee, McVey defended the sanctions system. She wrote: "It is widely accepted that they play an important role in the benefit system. They are effective in encouraging compliance and we continue to manage the process so they are only imposed as a last resort."''
http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politi...

"However, sanctions are used as a last resort"
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014...

Please send me the evidence relied on for these statements that sanctions are used as a "last resort"

Yours faithfully,

Mr Harris

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

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DWP Strategy Freedom of Information, Department for Work and Pensions

Dear Mr Harris,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request.

You can expect a reply by 6/2/15 unless I need to come back to you to clarify your request or the balance of the public interest test needs to be considered.

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DWP Central FoI Team

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Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

 
Dear Mr Harris
 
Please find attached the reply to your recent Freedom of Information
request reference number 107:
 
Thank you
 
DWP Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Sanctions as a last resort'.

Unfortunately the information you have sent me is not what I requested.

"Last Resort" is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as "A final course of action, used only when all else has failed" http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/defini...

You have provided *outline* information about setting requirements, decision making processes, etc. I am already familiar with detail of all that so far as it is accessible to the public but I can't find the information that says that sanctions are final course of action, used only when all else has failed with a claimant. It is that information I'm requesting. Thank you :-)

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Harris

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Sanctions as a last resort'.

You haven't responded to my review request of 7 February 2015. Please do so in the next 7 days to avoid reference to the ICO without further reference to yourselves.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Harris

DWP freedom-of-information-requests, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been accepted by the DWP FoI mailbox.
 
By the next working day your request will be forwarded to the relevant
information owner within the Department who will respond to you direct. 
 
If your email is a Freedom of Information request you can normally
expect a response within 20 working days.
 
Should you have any further queries in connection with this request do
please contact us.
 
For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.
 
[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...
 

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Dear DWP freedom-of-information-requests,

Further to my message of 15 March 2015, I have now raised a formal concern with the ICO

Yours sincerely,

Mr Harris

Ian Wright left an annotation ()

Given that the Department's own figures show that 42% of JSA Claimants were sanctioned in Market Harborough in Oct13 and 30% in both Loughborough and Corby it is my opinion that Ms McVey is either tragically misinformed or not telling the truth.

Operations FOI Requests, Department for Work and Pensions

4 Attachments

 
Dear Mr Harris
 
Please find attached our response to your recent Freedom of Information
review request.
 
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
DWP Central Freedom of Information Team
 
 
 
 

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Mr Harris left an annotation ()

The latest DWP response doesn't contain the information I requested. It doesn't say that the information is not held either. There is no satisfactory whatdotheyknow.com status for this.

Mr Harris left an annotation ()

..and I've referred the matter back to the ICO

Mr Harris left an annotation ()

The ICO office says:

"It is noted by the Commissioner that these documents do not explicitly state that these sanctions are a “last resort”, but there are clear steps that must be taken before a sanction can be employed against a claimant.

Instead, the Commissioner considers it likely that the use of the phrase “last resort” is one used by the DWP to indicate that there is a process in place. It is a phrase that is open for interpretation as to whether it is only used when all else has failed, as per the definition you provided in your correspondence, but this would be a difference of opinion and not one of recorded information. The Commissioner cannot conceive of a way for you to get the DWP to alter this view through requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000."

I don't agree with the ICO position, hence the status I am applying to this request below.

Ian Wright left an annotation ()

When I worked as a Works Coach we were told that Claimant's should not be 'given a chance' but sanctioned first time, no excuses accepted.
I would not have thought that the official policy of day 'one conditionality' could in any way be understood as leaving sanctions as a last resort.

M Boyce left an annotation ()

It couldn't be clearer that sanctions ( Jobcentre Plus stopping or reducing a claimant's benefit) are often being used as a FIRST resort. If someone misses a JSA Work Coach interview and does not get in touch with the jobcentre within 5 working days then their JSA is stopped effective from their last signing-on day ( they may not receive the letter, or heaven forbid they may simply forget about the appointment - I know, I would flog them to within an inch of their life for this unforgivable benefit offence, let alone let them effectively get away with this crime by only leaving them dependant on food banks for weeks on end! ) I hope Duncan's not reading this, it might give him ideas. Then to add icing to the nasty little DWP cake when the claimant makes a fresh claim for JSA they are then sanctioned as well! A lovely little double-whamy.
How is all this in any way not a sanction of FIRST resort?