CPAG’s response to the publication of the independent review of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) sanctions

Responding to the publication of the independent review of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) sanctions published today, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“We welcome this critical report from the independent reviewer which illustrates how shambolic the current sanctions regime has become. When families are neither fully informed of conditions imposed on them when they make a claim for benefit, nor told that their income has been stopped as a result of their ‘failure’ to comply, they enter a truly Kafkaesque world where nothing makes sense."

“The independent reviewer recommends that DWP should ensure ‘proportionate steps’ are taken to inform all claimants of a sanction before a benefit is cut. CPAG thinks the government should go one step further and ensure all decisions are properly reviewed before a family’s income is stopped. Not only would this significantly reduce the misery families experience as a result of being wrongly sanctioned, it would also cut the cost to government of after-the-fact revisions and lengthy appeals.

“We welcome the government’s commitment in response to the review to inform local authorities from autumn this year if families have had their benefits stopped as a result of a sanction. This will stop the practice of housing benefit claims being wrongly closed in these circumstances, reducing the risk of homelessness. 

"And there’s more we’d like to see. It would be helpful to know how many children live in families that have been sanctioned - the government does not currently provide this important information. We do know, however, that many families with children using food banks have had their benefits cut, often in error or without their full knowledge."