Call for Overhaul of Benefit Sanctions Regime
The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the representative body for the employment support sector, has called for an overhaul of the current benefit sanctions regime and put forward a five point plan to increase its effectiveness.
Speaking at the Work and Pensions Select Committee, ERSA chief executive, Kirsty McHugh, said that the ability for Jobcentre Plus to sanction jobseekers should not be abandoned entirely, but there needed to be fundamental reform to make the system more effective. In particular she called for:
- The development of a far more robust evidence base about the effectiveness of sanctions and benefits conditionality generally on jobseekers.
- Frontline employment providers of the Work Programme and other programmes, to be given more discretion about when they should report jobseekers to Jobcentre Plus for potential sanctioning.
- The introduction of an ‘early warning’ system which could be used at first offence rather than imposing a sanction.
- Greater clarity across the system about which jobseekers are classed as ‘vulnerable’ and should be exempt from sanctions. This should include better sharing of information about jobseeker circumstances, including the result of the Work Capability Assessment.
- An automatic review of jobseeker circumstances when repeat sanctions fail to have an effect.
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How Single Parent Action Network (SPAN) is supporting single parents with sanctions
We know from our research and direct work with single parents that sanctions are a real concern. As part of our parliamentary work SPAN has provided written evidence to a new Parliamentary Inquiry into sanctions. Please also see our article Job Seeking Single Parents: how to avoid being sanctioned