17 February 2015

Sanctions comprehensive monitoring regime

The DWP tells the world "Sanctions are used as a last resort and the DWP has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime to ensure that sanctions are always and only applied where appropriate to do so." (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/benefit-sanctions-ending-the-something-for-nothing-culture) There is a contrary view that many sanctions are capricious, arbitrary, bullying and driven by targets to get people off benefits. (EG: http://stupidsanctions.tumblr.com/)

So what's the truth? I chose to focus on the DWP's "comprehensive monitoring regime" as that sounds to me like data and evidence and we love that.

So I asked about it. Initially I just got some Quality Assurance Frameworks and a DMA Referrals Checklist. Interesting but no data. After asking for a review I got a "summary of the quality checks undertaken" - I've plotted the accuracy rate below together with the number of cases checked:

We can see that for some months, accuracy hovered between 90% and 95% which if you want to be picky doesn't quite match "always and only applied". I was more interested in the decline that set in during Autumn 2014. The peak in the number of cases checked is interesting too. It looks like "something happened" around that time and I'd be interested in ideas about what?

I think it will be interesting to ask the same question again later in the year to see if the decline is a decline or just part of a blip. 

Given the lack of data before April 2014, I wonder if the "comprehensive monitoring regime" wasn't actually in place back in November 2013 when the original claim was made?

No comments: