No evidence that benefit sanctions work, finds secret DWP report

The Tories have been accused of slipping out a study admitting that there’s ‘no evidence’ benefit sanctions work.

The report showed that cutting someone’s benefits as a punishment for alleged failures to comply with Jobcentre Plus rules does not encourage claimants to apply for additional work.

It went on to say that in some cases docking the money “damages the relationship between the work coach and the claimant”.

No evidence that benefit sanctions work, finds secret DWP report

The findings, which cast doubt on the effectiveness of a key element of Universal Credit, were published quietly on 12 September with no ministerial announcement.

Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, accused ministers of trying to bury the findings.

“The reason why it was buried is because it didn’t have good news,” he told Sky News.

“If it had actually said sanctions terrified workers into massive increases in pay and the length of the working week, and god knows what, this would have been sung from the rooftops.

“Instead it showed that a very key part of what increasing numbers of members of parliament and the public feel is a bullying aspect of Universal Credit is not working. That is why it was buried,” he added.

More than a million benefits sanctions have been imposed on disabled people since 2010.

At the time, the 24-year-old said the system was “cold-hearted”.

The story was widely shared and less than two weeks later, the Universal Credit department at the DWP informed him his sanctions would be reversed, saying “not enough consideration was placed on Mr O’Donnell’s health following three days of epileptic episodes”.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “The ‘in work progression trials’ helped encourage claimants to increase their hours, seek out progression opportunities and take part in job-related training.”

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