Jobcentres were set targets for benefit sanctions

by richardhutton

Jobcentres were set targets for sanctioning claimants. Patrick Wintour writes in the Guardian:

“The government has launched an inquiry after it was forced to admit that jobcentres have been setting targets and league tables to sanction benefit claimants despite assurances to parliament this week that no such targets were being set.

A leaked email shows staff being warned by managers that they will be disciplined unless they increase the number of claimants referred to a tougher benefit regime”.

More disturbingly, there is a league table for Job Centres to compete over who has sanctioned the most people. Both targets and a league table exist, despite the Employment Minister Mark Hoban claiming that neither had basis in fact. These are sanctions which leave people without any money for at least four weeks – and have led to a massive increase in people being dependent on Foodbanks. Job Centre managers purposely encouraged staff to sanction people on spurious grounds:

In the email King sets out ways jobcentre staff can catch out claimants, saying: “You should consider every doubt – if you are unsure then please conference with me.” Her advice includes: “Do not accept the same job search every week, do not accept ‘I dropped off CV to shops like Asda or Sainsbury’s’, listen for telltale phrases ‘I pick up the kids’, ‘I look after my neighbours children/my grandchildren’ or just ‘I am busy’ – all of which suggest that the customer may not be fully available for work, even cases where a parent shares custody can be considered.”

With a quite revolting hypocrisy, Liam Byrne is quoted blustering that:

“This explosive letter lays bare the climate of fear in jobcentres as league tables and threats of disciplinary action are used to perpetrate a culture of sanctioning innocent people to hit targets. That is just plain wrong and must be stopped now. Either ministers have no grip on their department or they misled parliament. Either way they must now face the consequences”.

This is the same man who spearheaded support for the government’s recent Bill which rewrote history, and purposely denied unlawfully sanctioned people compensation. This Bill means that the government can bypass Parliament, and evade legal accountability. Byrne facilitated this, as did all MPs who voted for it, or refused to vote against it.

Really – what awful people.