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Sanction warning trial

 

Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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Don’t know if this has been discussed elsewhere but thought I’d post in case it hasn’t.

January treasury minutes progress report: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/676345/CCS207_CCS0118804018-1_TM_2010-12_to_2016-17_Jan18_Accessible.pdf

See pages 139-142.  Trial on sanction warnings rejected.  There will be no report on impact of sanctions.  There will be no fix to issue that means HB stops for sanctioned claimants (but the report states that it is important that claimants resolve the issue themselves!).

     
Andrew Dutton
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Derbyshire Welfare Rights Service

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Well spotted. Disgraceful chicanery.

‘Competing priorities in the Parliamentary timetable…no opportunity to implement’ = Brexit.

Mind you, they’re quick enough to clear Parliamentary time to make cuts,  which often turn out to be unlawful…

     
SarahJBatty
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Money Adviser, Thirteen, Middlesbrough

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There will be no public accountability for exercise of discretion around vulnerability by work coaches and this will remain a ‘local managent” issue.

Thanks Owen. Shockingly bad.

     
ClairemHodgson
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Solicitor, SC Law, Harrow

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Owen Stevens
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Welfare Rights Service, Greenwich Council, London

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This got some publicity at the weekend: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/benefits-sanctions-cut-number-dwp-department-work-pensions-hunger-home-eviction-a8237131.html

The treasury minutes documents are interesting reads at the moment, it will be interesting to see whether the commitments in this recent document are met or whether they are dropped too: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/housing/news/item/government-responds-to-public-accounts-committee-report-on-homeless-househo

     
Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and Advice Resources, Age UK

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Owen Stevens - 05 March 2018 11:12 AM

This got some publicity at the weekend: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/benefits-sanctions-cut-number-dwp-department-work-pensions-hunger-home-eviction-a8237131.html

The treasury minutes documents are interesting reads at the moment, it will be interesting to see whether the commitments in this recent document are met or whether they are dropped too: https://www.rightsnet.org.uk/housing/news/item/government-responds-to-public-accounts-committee-report-on-homeless-househo

The Independent call it an “an exclusive” which is overstating it slightly - not only was it spotted here first by Owen, it’s also already been covered by Disability News Service DWP quietly dumps plan to trial softer sanctions regime  (and DNS also acknowledges the source of the story).

     
shawn
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Paul_Treloar_AgeUK - 05 March 2018 11:38 AM

The Independent call it an “an exclusive” which is overstating it slightly - not only was it spotted here first by Owen, it’s also already been covered by Disability News Service DWP quietly dumps plan to trial softer sanctions regime  (and DNS also acknowledges the source of the story).

Thanks to Owen too we published a story on it back in January: Government announces it has decided not to undertake a feasibility study on issuing warnings before sanctions

     
Mr Finch
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Benefits Adviser, Isle of Wight CAB

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...processes that must be followed by Local Authorities when JSA is stopped following intermediate level sanctions. The Local Authority is legally required to suspend payment of Housing Benefit and issue forms to the claimant to establish entitlement on low income grounds.

Surely the LA merely has a discretion to suspend benefit if entitlement is in doubt. It should exercise that discretion sensibly, and if it knows JSA ended due to an intermediate sanction, entitlement to HB is never put in doubt.

     
Owen_Stevens
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UC London Adviser, CPAG

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From the DWP response to the benefit sanction inquiry: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/work-and-pensions-committee/news-parliament-2017/benefit-sanctions-government-response-report-publication-17-19/

“We recommend that the Department explore all options for allowing a warning, instead of a sanction, to be issued in response to any claimant’s first sanctionable failure. It should set out these options in its response to our report, identify the simplest approach, and commit to introducing the necessary legislation by May 2019. The policy should be based on lessons learnt from the recently announced pilot. The Department must ensure that under both the pilot and subsequent policy reforms:

the warning must be communicated clearly via the claimant’s preferred method of communication, which may not be a written letter; and

a warning must automatically trigger a meeting between the claimant and work coach. At this meeting the work coach must ensure the claimant fully understands the rules around conditionality and sanctions. They must also review the Claimant Commitment, including considering whether any easements should be applied. (Paragraph 117)

77.The Government partially accepts this recommendation — the Department will be running a Proof of Concept (PoC) of a warning system; however, this warning system will not automatically trigger a meeting between the claimant and work coach, and the Department cannot commit to introducing legislation by May 2019.

78.The first test (PoC) of a warning system is due to begin in Spring 2019. It will test claimant behaviour and Department for Work and Pensions communications following a warning instead of a sanction when a claimant fails to attend an appointment.

79.Communicating clearly with the claimant via their preferred method of communication is a key part of the warning system Proof of Concept, and this has been factored into the current design. In each case where a warning is applied, the claimant will receive a notification in their Universal Credit journal, and an explanation via their preferred method of communication and at their next appointment. For this reason, an automatic trigger for a meeting between the claimant and work coach is not currently part of the design for the warning system PoC.

80.This PoC is a first step in building the Department’s evidence base on a warning system and once it has been completed, further testing on feasibility and communication is required. When there is a better understanding of claimant behaviour, the claimant journey and deliverability of a warning system, the Department will consider whether it is appropriate to introduce. The Department would like to complete this evidence base before committing to introducing legislation. For this reason, it cannot commit to introducing legislation by May 2019.”