Independent review shows sanctions hit most vulnerable the hardest

Tuesday, 22 July 2014 - 2:59pm

An independent review of the sanctions regime, carried out by Matthew Oakley on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has been published today. The review highlights serious problems with the way sanctions are communicated and the detrimental impact on the most vulnerable groups.

Photograph: lydia_shiningbrightly (Flickr)
Photograph: lydia_shiningbrightly (Flickr)

Homeless people face significant barriers in finding work and the lack of a stable home can create a serious disadvantage. Recent research by Homeless Link revealed that 31% of homeless people on Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) have been sanctioned, compared to just 5.5% of the typical claimant population (DWP data).

Jacqui McCluskey, Director of Policy and Communications for Homeless Link, commented:

“We are pleased that the review highlights the need to improve the way sanctions are explained to claimants, particularly vulnerable individuals such those experiencing homelessness. We ask the Government to implement the recommendations of the review.

“However, we are concerned that it does not address all of the current problems with the sanctions regime. Our research has shown that homeless people are being disproportionately affected by sanctions and, in many cases, pushed further into hardship.

“Whilst recent changes to Jobseekers’ Allowance to provide extra support are welcome, there remains a serious problem with the way the system works in practice. We urge DWP to continue reviewing the system and improve the way Jobcentre Plus staff work with homeless people to ensure those most in need of support are not unfairly penalised, but are given the help they need to get their lives back on track.”   

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Stephen Holland

Stephen served as our Communications Officer until January 2016.