Yesterday the Government finally published its overdue response to Benefit Sanctions Beyond Oakley Review:
This is what Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth and shadow minister for disabled people, who instigated the select committee’s inquiry resulting in the Beyond Oakley report, said: “The Government’s response is not only four months late; it is totally inadequate.
“It is a slap in the face to those people who have been affected by sanctions including the family members of people who have died.”
Gill Thompson, whose brother David Clapson died while being sanctioned has said:“What crime had David committed? If he had been a criminal, he would have had a judge, a jury, a trial. But he didn’t get anything.
“He never even got an inquest.
“Wouldn’t you want to uncover what had happened not just to David but to all the other people who have died or had to go hungry because of a sanction? It sickens me. What is wrong with these people?”
You can read more here:
Our Petition demanded the implementation of two out of the twenty six recommendations made by Benefit Sanctions Beyond Oakley Review: This is what the Government response was:
This petition demanded that The Government:
1.Set up “Broad Independent Review” “that should be established and report as soon as is practicable in the next Parliament.”
This was Not accepted:
This is part of the Governments response to this recommendation: “As with all our policies, we are keeping the operation of the sanctions system under constant review to ensure that it continues to function effectively and fairly and that, where we identify an issue, we act to put it right.”
Mike Sivier has reported that “The Baptist Union, Church in Wales, Church of Scotland, Methodist Church, United Reformed Church and charity Church Action on Poverty have called for an immediate suspension of sanctions against families with children and people with mental ill-health. They say the DWP’s response does not go far enough and have called again for a review.”
You can read more here:
2. Make Hardship Payments available from day one.
This was Accepted in Principle, which really means the Government might do something or they might not!
This is part of the Governments response to this recommendation: “We are grateful to the Committee for their comments on this and we are now considering the extension of the definition of vulnerability for the purposes of access to hardship payments from day one for a broader group of individuals. ”
It is highly likely that after a period of “consideration”, paying Hardship Payments to all claimants from day one will be quietly shelved.
We already know that the government issued guidance which stated: “It would be usual for a normal healthy adult to suffer some deterioration in their health if they were without:
1. essential items such as food, clothing, heating and accommodation, or
2. sufficient money to buy essential items for a period of two weeks.”
It beggars belief that how this government can say that they are “now considering the extension of the definition of vulnerability” Even a few days without food and warmth would make a healthy person vulnerable but this government appears to be happy to leave someone without these essentials for two weeks!
You can see the sanction regime here:
The Government Response to Beyond Oakley can be found here: