Union renews call for controversial scheme to be scrapped

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, PCS, Austerity

pcsThe PCS has welcomed a call from MPs for a full independent review of the government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime.

In a report published today the work and pensions select committee says there are serious doubts that the stricter system introduced in 2012 helps people find long term work.

The union is disappointed that key evidence it submitted to the inquiry, in writing and verbally, about the target-culture in jobcentres has been largely overlooked in the report.

During the inquiry the union exposed the pressure on staff to stop claimants’ benefits, including the target that 80% of recommended sanctions must be upheld.

The union supports the committee’s recommendations as far as they go, including:

– A broad independent review of benefit conditionality and sanctions, to investigate whether sanctions are being applied appropriately, fairly and proportionately

– An evaluation of the relative effectiveness of conditionality and improved employment support, in terms of helping people to find work

– The planned evaluation of the new ‘claimant commitment’ should be brought forward and should include assessments of whether it is genuinely involving claimants in the process

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We welcome the call for a full, thorough independent review of the sanctions regime because ministers continue to rely on rhetoric and prejudice rather than evidence.

“But our position remains that the sanctions regime is pernicious and poisons the relationship between employment advisers and claimants, and it should be scrapped entirely.”

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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