If conditionality is to be used within the benefit system, CAS believes it must be part of a holistic system that supports, rather than compels, jobseekers into sustainable employment. Sanctions should be always proportionate to the “offence” and should be operated as a last resort to ensure that claimants are seeking employment in exchange for their benefit.
This response covers the following:
- DWP sanction statistics and CAS statistics on sanctions advice provision
- Intended aims and outcomes of the sanctions regime
- Whether sanctions are being implemented in line with policy
- The impact of sanctions on Scottish CAB clients
- Sanctions early warning trial in Scotland
And makes the following recommendations:
- CAS strongly recommends that a full scale independent review of the sanctions regime is undertaken as a matter of urgency. This review should consider the effectiveness of the sanctions regime in getting people back to work and the impact that it has on individuals, families and services. In particular, the impact of sanctions on ESA claimants and JSA claimants with disabilities and health conditions should be taken into account.
- CAS recommends that the use of non-financial sanctions, particularly written warnings, is piloted
- CAS recommends that Hardship Payments are available from day one of a sanction period in all cases, are paid automatically when a sanction begins and do not need to be repaid to the DWP.
- CAS recommends that the DWP publish the full findings of the Sanctions Early Warning Trial that is currently being conducted in Scotland and that, if there is a benefit to claimants, the further 14 days to provide evidence is introduced elsewhere in the UK.