10 February 2015

Sanctions used as a Last Resort

DWP people are often quoted as saying that sanctions are used as a "Last Resort" EG:

"Sanctions are applied as a last resort when claimants fail to do enough to find work, fail to attend appointments or have turned down job offers..." (1)

However, there are many claims that they as used as a first resort (2)

So what's the truth? We may soon find out via an FOI request "Number of people sanctioned for missing just one JSA appointment". This doesn't simply ask the obvious question, it also asks:

"If DWP don’t have this number, then how can Iain Duncan Smith possibly know, or be believed, that JSA benefit sanctions for failure to attend an adviser interview were only applied as a last resort?"

Strictly speaking, DWP can decline to answer that by arguing that it isn't "recorded information" but I note with approval the use of a technique I've blogged about before - ask for recorded information that should exist, force an admission that it doesn't exist and then comment adversely.

Another pertinent FOI request is about  "Sanctions comprehensive monitoring regime" which refers to this government statement:

"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."

Finally, a request that asks rather directly for the evidence relied on for these statements that sanctions are used as a "last resort"

These requests are at various stages - stay tuned for updates

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