Gingerbread welcomes the opportunity to input into the independent review of the operation of benefit sanctions in relation to the Jobseeker’s (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013. This response was submitted in 2014.
The overall level of sanctioning is high across all JSA claimants, indicating that the current provision is failing jobseekers. Worryingly, the high proportion of decisions that are overturned – particularly among single parents – suggests that sanctions are being inappropriately imposed on claimants. Unnecessary sanctioning could be avoided by ensuring that the parent flexibilities are properly understood by advisers and single parents. This would help to ensure that conditionality attached to jobseeking agreements is appropriate, taking into account the additional burden of caring responsibilities. Dealing with sanction referrals and appeals takes a significant amount of JCP staff time and resources; resources that could be re-directed to better serve claimants looking for work.