CAS has responded to the Work and Pensions Committee’s inquiry into benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley Review. We believe that the Review was too narrow in its remit and this inquiry represents a vital opportunity to take a wider look at the sanctions regime, its purpose and impact on claimants.
In this response:
- We strongly support the Committee’s call for a wider review of the sanctions regime. This review should be undertaken as a matter of urgency and consider the actual effectiveness of the sanctions regime in getting people back to work and the impact that it has on individuals, families and services.
- CAS cautiously welcomed the Oakley Review recommendations upon publication, despite the narrow remit of the Review. However, we are concerned about the progress that the Government has made on implementing recommendations, and about the recommendations that the Government not yet addressed. It would be useful for the Committee to be able to monitor the progress of the recommendations and hold the Government to account.
- There are a number of issues that were out with the remit of the Oakley Review that need to be addressed, including the ESA sanction regime as identified by the Committee in its terms of reference. We are also concerned about JSA claimants with disabilities, particularly former IB/ESA claimants, who are often unprepared for the harsh conditionality of claiming JSA and can also be worse affected by the consequences of a sanction.