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Ministers broke promise to review ‘pointlessly cruel’ system for benefit sanctions, MPs say

Ministers have damaged a promise to overview the “pointlessly merciless” system for imposing sanctions on benefit claimants, a damning report by MPs warns at this time.

No analysis has been carried out regardless of a pledge made again in 2013, it says – and regardless of repeated warnings of people being pushed into poverty after being wrongly stripped of advantages.

In the meantime, the troubled growth of universal credit has sparked a recent rise within the variety of sanctions – together with on the sick and disabled, single dad and mom and care leavers.

Frank Field, the chairman of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, mentioned the federal government had “saved itself in the dead of night” in regards to the affect of the coverage.

“We have now heard tales of horrible and pointless hardship from individuals who’ve been sanctioned,” the Labour MP mentioned.

“They had been left bewildered and pushed to despair at changing into, usually with their kids, the victims of a sanctions regime that’s at occasions so counterproductive it simply appears pointlessly merciless.

“If their tales had been uncommon it will be unacceptable, however the authorities has no thought what number of extra individuals on the market are struggling in related circumstances.”

Among the many individuals who instructed the committee in regards to the struggling attributable to sanctions had been:

* Jen, a wheelchair consumer pressured to “couch surf” and sleep in a university library for a whole yr – together with by her exams – when she was wrongly sanctioned for failing to attend a jobcentre appointment.

The jobcentre had instructed her it was acceptable to overlook an appointment that clashed with an A-level examination, however she nonetheless had her advantages stopped for nearly one yr.

* Luke, who was sanctioned after lacking a jobcentre appointment as a result of he had been admitted to hospital with extreme epileptic seizures.

He was sanctioned for failing to indicate “good cause for lacking his appointment” – a call solely overturned after a media outcry.

* Samantha, a single dad or mum pressured to modify to part-time working due to a scarcity of childcare and stress, who was sanctioned for “voluntarily leaving employment”.

Her earnings fell from £800 per thirty days to £300, forcing her to depend on meals parcels from associates and to beg for cash.

A 2012 act dramatically stepped up the sanctions regime inherited from Labour, making them “longer, extra extreme and relevant to extra individuals than ever earlier than”, at this time’s report says.

If circumstances usually are not met, advantages are docked for 4 weeks, which may imply a lack of £300 for a claimant over the age of 25 – however a sanction can final for 3 months, or perhaps a yr.

The report says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) pledged the coverage could be “reviewed from 2013 on an ongoing foundation” to “set up its affect and the extent to which the coverage targets have been achieved”.

Nonetheless, Alok Sharma, the advantages minister, was “unable to level to any particular analysis of the extra extreme sanctions regime launched in 2012”.

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The minister additionally mentioned the DWP was unable to offer knowledge on the size of sanctions imposed, which might “take appreciable time to extract and analyse”.

At this time’s report requires sanctions to be much less draconian till the federal government “can level to strong proof that longer sanctions are more practical”.

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