Government launches consultation on sanctions - we want your views

Mon, 18/11/2013 - 11:16 -- nick

The government wants your views on the way it hands out sanctions within its Work Programme and similar schemes.

It has appointed Matthew Oakley as an independent reviewer to find out what those affected think of the issue.

Unsurprisingly, Oakley is a supporter of the Work Programme; in a Guardian article he wrote in March about the Cait Reilly/Poundland case he said:

"The ruling [in favour of Reilly] has been seen as a success for continued efforts to stop the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) using the schemes to help and encourage benefit claimants back into work. Thankfully, it seems that celebrations might be short-lived."

Figures out last week showed that, in the last year, 1.9 million jobseekers had been referred for sanctions, and 860,000 had seen their benefits snatched away.

A whole range of categories were given, but the Department for Work and Pensions is only interested in one, 'failure to participate in an employment programme (including the Work Programme) or training schemes'.

The law which brought these schemes to life included a clause forcing the government to gather the views of jobseekers and others on how they're working.

This includes:

- the quality of information given on sanctions for failing to take part;

- how the process worked, including whether jobseekers were given proper information on how to get through it, how to appeal and whether they were asked whether they had good reason for not attending;

- information on why a sanction was given, and options including hardship payments, review and appeal once the sanction had been given;

- how the government can improve the quality of information provided.

The review only covers a small part of the problem, but it is still an important opportunity to tell the government what you think.

UnemployedNet will be responding on behalf of any workless people who want to tell us their stories.

We want you to comment below and we will bring your views to those who are in a position to change things.

UnemployedNet campaigns to make the Work Programme and all government support programmes voluntary, believing that this would change overnight the relationship between the companies delivering them and jobseekers.

But the real human stories are the ones that should have the most impact, and you can fill us in on those.

The deadline for responses is 10th January 2014.

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