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Work and Pensions Committee launches inquiry on the use of sanctions

Work and Pensions Committee launches inquiry on the use of sanctions.

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into benefit sanctions, to examine how they operate, recent developments, and what the evidence is that they work - either to deter non-compliant behaviour or to help achieve the policy objectives of getting people off benefits and into work.

Although conditionality has long been a feature of the welfare system, their use has attracted a greater interest, partly fuelled by some of the more lurid reality programmes aired on television and extreme cases given exposure in the press.

The committee has set out eight questions it would like to ask of those who have experience of benefits – either from those in receipt of benefits or those whose work has brought them into contact with those on benefits who may have been sanctioned.

1. To what extent is the current sanctions regime achieving its policy objectives?
2. Is the current evidence base adequate and if not, what further information, data and research are required?
3. What improvements to sanctions policy could be made to achieve its objectives better?
4. Could a challenge period and/or a system of warnings for a first sanctionable offence be beneficial? If so, how should they be implemented?
5. Are levels of discretion afforded to jobcentre staff appropriate?
6. Are adequate protections in place for vulnerable claimants?
7. What effects does sanctions policy have on other aspects of the benefits system and public services more widely? Are consequential policy changes required?
8. To what extent have the recommendations of the Oakley review of Jobseekers’ Allowance sanctions improved the sanctions regime?
9. Are there recommendations that have not been implemented that should be?
SFHA Policy Adviser Jeremy Hewer said:

“Front line housing staff will no doubt have come into contact with tenants who may have been sanctioned. If there are any members who would like to share their experience and views on the use and effectiveness on sanctions and whether that use has been proportional and fair, please get in touch with me.”

The consultation deadline is May 25th.