My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Thanet's Hard-line Job Centre Bosses Top of Sanctioning League

Green Party Councillor and Parliamentary Candidate for Thanet South Ian Driver says he believes that Thanet Job Centre bosses are operating an “unfair and hard-line” sanctions policy against the district’s benefits claimants.
His comments follow an  analysis of Department of Work and Pensions statistics which reveal that during the 21  month period from October 2012 – June 2014, Thanet Jobcentre managers disallowed or  sanctioned  5,273 Jobs Seekers Allowance claims; that’s an average of 251 sanctions per month which is twice the rate of any other district in the Kent County Council area  and over  20% of all sanctions and disallowance decisions  in Kent (1).
Said Driver “even allowing for Thanet’s high unemployment,
the number of sanctions are massively  disproportionate when compared to other areas of Kent. I can only assume that this is because Jobcentre bosses in Thanet are more  hard-line  toward sanctioning claims  than their colleagues  elsewhere in Kent. Perhaps they are operating unofficial sanctions targets and  putting pressure on frontline staff  to sanction first and ask questions later. Either way the statistics for Thanet suggest that something very unusual and unfair is happening. The victims of this approach are most likely to be vulnerable and disabled people especially those with mental health problems and learning disabilities ”.
Driver’s criticisms are supported by growing evidence which indicates that  the application of benefits sanctions is beset by problems. Reports to the Scottish Parliament and the House of Commons in 2014 and countless press articles have demonstrated that the sanctioning  regime  is unfair, applied inconsistently, subject to abuse, and is the cause of extreme hardship; and even suicide  for some claimants,  especially those who are vulnerable or disabled(2).
Such is the level of concern about this issue that a Department of Work and Pensions Select Committee on Benefits Sanctions has been set up by Parliament to look into the matter. At its first meeting on 7 January,  leaders of several influential campaign  groups and charities called for the immediate suspension of benefits sanctioning and the major review  of how the DWP deals with claimants who fail to follow the rules(3).
Said Driver “there is no doubt in my mind that some of the most vulnerable people in Thanet have been abused and forced into severe hardship and poverty  by the insensitive and hard-line approach  of senior Job Centre bosses. I sincerely hope that the Select Committee will demand  a root and branch overhaul of a system which is clearly unfit for purpose and dangerous to boot”

Ends for more information contact Ian Driver on 07866588
Notes
  1. Number of sanctions per benefits office and per Kent County Council District set out below. Figures extracted  from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/jobseekers-allowance-and-employment-and-support-allowance-sanctions-decisions-made-to-june-2014
Benefit Office
Ashford - International House
1,473
Canterbury - Northgate House
1,264
Dartford - Lowfield Street
2,311
Dover - Maison Dieu Road
2,028
Folkestone - Trinity Road
2,807
Gravesend - The Grove
2,248
Herne Bay - Bank Street
955
Maidstone - County Gate
2,273
Margate - Mill House
3,720
Ramsgate - Queens Street
1,553
Sheerness - Millennium Way
1,109
Sittingbourne - Roman Square
1,469
Tonbridge - Bradford Street
806
Tunbridge Wells - Northgate
942
Whitstable - High Street
35
24,993
District Council
Ashford
1,473
Canterbury
2,254
Dartford
2,311
Dover
2,028
Gravesham
2,248
Maidstone
2,273
Shepway
2,807
Swale
2,578
Thanet
5,273
Tonbridge and Malling
806
Tunbridge Wells
942
24,993

2.    Sanctioned ; what benefit? Citizens Advice Scotland 2014, Tough Love or Tough Luck: Report of the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform Committee 2014, Independent Review of the Operation of Jobseekers Allowance sanctions DWP 2014

3.    Government urged to suspend benefit sanctions regime The Guardian 8 January 2015 

3 comments:

  1. my wife was once sanctioned for failing to look for work on Christmas day & boxing day at Ramsgate

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well said Ian this is a scandal ripe for exposing. At best the JC should help people find jobs and at worst just process benefits. They seem to be active in reducing claims for targets.

    All the more concerning given Thanet is/has been a longterm job blackspot.

    Who are the senior staff at Thanet JC we pay to provide a fair benefits system? What are their salaries?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seems they are processing payments 07.37, and quite rightly not paying taxpayers money to people not complying with the requirements for them to be entitled to those benefits. The level of pay of those working in the JC's is rather irrelevant, but do remember your question the next time you support a civil servants strike for more pay/better benefits.

    ReplyDelete