CAS gave evidence on sanctions to the Welfare Reform Committee at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday of this week. This follows a visit by the Committee to Parkhead CAB last week, where committee members spoke to clients and advisers from bureaux across Glasgow who had been sanctioned.
CAS provided written evidence to the Committee which shows that sanctions now make up nearly one in five (18%) of all JSA issues in bureaux. We set out the types of problems clients face when they have been sanctioned, including:
- DWP's failure to communicate to claimants that they have received a sanction, or the reason for a sanction
- Poor communication by DWP of the expectations on a benefit claimant
- being sanctioned for spurious reasons, including a high level of sanctions for people unable to use IT
- lack of knowledge of hardship payments and ways to challenge sanctions decisions
- the impact of a sanction on a client's ability to continue to meet jobsearch requirements
- the situation for Employment and Support Allowance claimants who are sanctioned, often without notification of the mandatory nature of the requirements on them and the consequences of not meeting them
We call for a fundamental and public review of the purpose of sanctions, including what the connection is to the growth in use of foodbanks. We make a number of detailed recommendations to make the system work better for claimants, including a call for a delay between notifying a claimant of a sanction and the stopping of their benefit so that clients can plan how they will manage with no money.
You can read the briefing at the bottom of the page.
We are delighted that one of our recommendations, on enabling vulnerable clients who have been sanctioned to be able to access the Scottish Welfare Fund, has now been met by the Scottish Government.
The Committee took oral evidence from a number of organisations, in a powerful and moving session. You can view the session here. The Committee are expected to take evidence from the DWP shortly and then decide what action to take as a result of the inquiry.