10 Sep The Impact of Sanctions in Brighton & Hove
Over the last few months I have been gathering evidence on the impact of sanctions in Brighton & Hove. Nationally, there has been a lot of focus on how sanctions are leaving vulnerable people destitute. The DWP commissioned a review of the system and Matthew Oakley, a respected expert in welfare delivered this with recommendations on how the system can be improved [gview file=”http://www.advicebrighton-hove.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/M-Oakley-Sanctions.pdf”]
The key findings of our report have been
- Since the introduction of the new sanction rules in October 2012 there has been a 14% increase in adverse decisions (where a sanction has been applied) in Brighton & Hove. This is despite a decrease in the numbers of JSA claimants.
- 41.5% of adverse decisions are applied to those aged between 18-24
- People who receive a sanction are often not aware of their rights to appeal and to hardship payments and they do not know where to go to get help
- Some sanctions are applied unfairly and can be a result of communication failure within the Job Centre rather than claimant error
- Sanctions cause immense distress and anxiety. This impacts the individual as well as services in the City, including mental health services, criminal justice services and emergency food providers.
Our recommendations echo Matthew Oakley’s and focus on how these can be implemented locally
- The DWP should ensure that an accessible guide to benefit sanctions is made available. This should include details of the process of reconsideration, appeals and hardship payments as well as the details of local organisations that can help. This needs to be given to a person as soon as they are sanctioned
- After sanctions decisions have been made, the DWP should consider how vulnerable groups might be identified, helped to claim hardship payments and/or access support through the local advice sector
- The sanctions and conditionality regime needs to be transparent and well communicated. Job Centre Plus staff need to work with claimants to individually tailor the claimant commitment to ensure that people are not being ‘set up to fail’
- Sanctions should be fair and consistently applied
To read a full copy of our report please press here [gview file=”http://www.advicebrighton-hove.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/On-The-Brink-Benefit-Sanctions-in-Brighton-Hove.pdf”]