My KCC Election Manifesto & Video

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Thanet's Benefit Sanction Tsunami

Former Thanet Green Party Councillor Ian Driver accuses  Ramsgate and Margate benefit office bosses  of  “unleashing  a sanctions tsunami” against Job Seekers Allowance claimants.  According to the latest Government figures, during the 2.5 year period, October 2012 –  March  2015, 6,342 JSA claimants from Thanet were sanctioned;  an average of 49 sanctions per week. This figure is much higher than  any other district in the Kent County Council (KCC) area and accounts for 21% of all benefits sanctions decisions in the KCC boundaries (2).

Said Driver “even allowing for Thanet’s higher than average unemployment, the number of sanctions are massively disproportionate when compared to other KCC areas . I can only assume that this is because Jobcentre bosses in Thanet are more inclined to apply sanctions than their colleagues  elsewhere in Kent. I suspect 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”.

Such is the level of concern about benefits sanctioning that the Government’s own advisers, the independent Social Security Advisory Committee, recently recommended that the Department of Work of Pensions (DWP) should  review the santioning process (3). Earlier this year the DWP Select Committee launched an investigation into benefits sanctioning which heard evidence from several influential campaign groups and charities about the impact of sanctions. The Public and Commercial Services Union presented the committee with evidence from serving and former Jobcentre staff which identified a widespread regime of  unfair and discriminatory sanctioning and extensive bullying of front line to refer claimants for sanctioning for minor issues (4). 

Said Driver “there is no doubt in my mind that some of the most vulnerable people in Thanet are being abused and forced into the most severe hardship and poverty  by the insensitive and hard-line approach  of senior Job Centre bosses. This must be stopped. I also think that the Government should  be forced to reveal how many people have died following the sanctioning of their benefits just like the recent figures related to deaths following  work capability assessments”.

Ends for more information contact Ian Driver on 07866588766 e-mail ianddriver@yahoo.co.uk

Notes

  1. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/27/thousands-died-after-fit-for-work-assessment-dwp-figures
  2. 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-march-2015
 JSA sanctions 0ctober 2012 – March 2015

District
Sanctions
Ashford
1,842
Canterbury
2,768
Dover
2,475
Dartford
3,018
Gravesham
2,579
Maidstone
2,731
Shepway
3,449
Swale
3,312
Thanet
6,342
Tonbridge & Malling
984
Tunbridge
1,190
total
30,690


  1. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jul/26/benefit-sanctions-review-urged-amid-concern-over-regimes-effectiveness
  2.  http://www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/resources/rethinksanctions/
  3. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/24/independent-review-benefit-sanctions-urgently-needed-say-mps

 

 

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