Benefit sanctions: evidence to Public Accounts Committee of MPs

Benefit sanctions stock photo

Summary of our submission to the Public Accounts Committee in 2016

  • Benefit sanctions and threat of sanction are brutal, have killed people and must be
  • Women, including mothers, and families of colour, are the hardest hit by benefit
    cuts including the increase in sanctions. It is particularly cruel to sanction, or
    impose conditions that include the threat to sanction: sick and disabled people,
    mothers and children where the mother is on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA),
    mothers of children under five, and full-time carers on Income Support.
  • Asylum seekers were the first to be made destitute as a deliberate policy, which
    has now become mainstream. Now, nearly a quarter of JSA claimants suffer
  • Sick and disabled women on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are
    being sanctioned through “failure to attend” the ESA exam because their ill-health
    is not accepted as good cause for not attending. Sick and disabled women have
    been left destitute, without proper food, and death hastened as in the case of
    Moira Drury.

Read our submission here: WinVisible submission Benefit Sanctions to PAC fnL

In February 2017, the MPs published their report

They said: “Government must review the use and impacts of benefit sanctions

The National Audit Office scrutinises spending by public bodies.  It said in 2016:

“International studies show people who receive sanctions are more likely to get work, but the effect can be short-lived, lead to lower wages and increase the number of people moving off benefits into inactivity. The DWP has not used its own data to evaluate the impact of sanctions in the UK. The NAO undertook preliminary analysis of the impact of Work Programme sanctions on employment, inactivity and earnings. The results show the Department should do more to understand these sanctions outcomes.”

“Sanctions have costs, for people who receive them and for the government. The Department does not track the costs and benefits of sanctions, but estimates that it spends £30-50 million a year applying sanctions, and around £200 million monitoring the conditions it sets for claimants. The NAO estimates the Department withheld £132 million from claimants due to sanctions in 2015, and paid them £35 million in hardship payments. The overall impact of sanctions on wider public spending [such as NHS] is unknown.



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