Complaint against The Right Honourable Iain Duncan Smith MP,
Minister for The Department of Work and Pensions
We would like you to look into the contents of this video interview, which is included in this complaint. This is a video interview with Mr Duncan Smith, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which was published on 10th March 2016
In this interview of 2.21 minutes, we believe that Mr Duncan Smith was less than truthful twice and made six statements that we believe have no statistical basis .
We believe that Mr Duncan Smith was less than truthful when he said:
“We haven’t actually changed the sanction regime”
We have provided this evidence that substantiates our claim here:
“21. Figure 1 provides an outline of how the current system compares with the previous system.”
As can be seen from the table, there has been a marked increase in the severity of sanctions under The Coalition Government of which The Conservatives were the driving force.
Up to 21 October 2012 the maximum length of a JSA sanction was 6 months. Now claimants can be deprived of benefits for up to 3 years for repeat ‘high level’ ‘failures’.
Welfare Reform Act 2012 section 46 sanctions: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/5/section/46/enacted
Ministers claimed that hardly anyone would be subject to the new 3-year sanctions. However, the number of JSA claimants who had received a 3-year sanction rose to 1,229 by 31December 2013. Over half of these (628) are aged 18-24, almost a fifth (219) have a disability, and 37 are lone parents whose youngest child may be as five
More here from The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/3-year-benefit-ban-hits-120-disabled-people-under-new-sanctions-regime
We also believe that Mr Duncan Smith was less than truthful when he said:
” No one sanctions you if you are not in work” – which is slightly incoherent.
We believe what he meant to say was this: No one sanctions you if you are in work .
Again we have provided information that substantiates our claim:
The in-work regime, which is expected to eventually apply to around one million people, is being trailed as part of Universal Credit, the new type of benefit which is being rolled out across the country.
“Dr Sharon Wright, senior lecturer in public policy in urban studies at Glasgow University, is lead researcher of a team at six universities across the UK which is carrying out a five-year study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council into welfare conditionality.
She said the sanctions system being implemented was “quite shockingly harsh” and pointed to examples of cases of in-work claimants being penalised uncovered during their research.
She said: “We had one interviewee who had an appointment at the Jobcentre, but got called into work. He phoned up the JobCentre to rearrange his appointment, they told him it couldn’t be rearranged and then he was sanctioned because he didn’t go.
“So he was actually working and they took £70 off him because he wasn’t there. The idea behind the system is that it is meant to encourage people to work, but it is actually penalising people who are in work, so it is counter-productive – that is partly because of the rigidity of the system.”
The UC regime has similar lengths of sanction to those of JSA for the various ‘failures’, but there are some critical differences.
“Sanctions are lengthened by being made consecutive, not concurrent.
Under Universal Credit hardship payments become repayable. Given that repayments are made at the rate of 40% of benefit – the same as the amount by which a hardship payment is lower than the benefit – this means that for claimants receiving hardship payments, UC sanctions are in effect 3½ times as long as their nominal length.
All sanctioned UC claimants must also demonstrate ‘compliance’ for 7 days before applying for hardship payments, and must reapply for each 4-week period.
The 80% hardship rate for ‘vulnerable’ claimants is abolished.”
http://www.cpag.org.uk/david-webster (Feb 2016 briefing)
An estimated 55,800 JSA sanctions and 6,800 ESA sanctions were overturned in the 12 months to September 2015 via reviews, reconsiderations or appeals.
This is a total of 62,600 cases where the claimant’s payments will have been stopped for weeks or months only to be refunded later.
This figure peaked at 153,600 in the year to March 2014.
http://www.cpag.org.uk/david-webster February 2016 Briefing
We would ask you to investigate these two claims made by Mr Duncan Smith along with the evidence to the contrary that we have provided and if you agree with our case that these statements are untrue, then we would like you to demand that Mr Duncan Smith publicly retract them.
We believe that there is no data to substantiate these six statements set out below.
- “even the people in the Jobcentres say its the right thing to do”
The PCS Union published this article in May 2015 about the “pressure to sanction:
The results of the survey of Jobcentre members in 2014, clearly show that members are put under increasing pressure to make sanctions referrals. Nearly 80% of PCS members reported feeling differently about their job because of the change in conditionality and sanctions policy, and nearly 70% believe that sanctioning does not positively impact on claimants finding employment. In the same survey, 72.8% of members reported an increase in verbal abuse, and 37.9% reported an increase in physical abuse.”
- “Sanctions are the reasons why we have the highest employment levels than ever in the UK, ever.”
Please bare in mind that year on year there should be more people in employment as population numbers are increasing year on year.
- “We are actually beginning to run out of people to go back into work – Its been a phenomenal success”
- “It really clarifies the mind.”
Last year Psychologist Against Austerity produced this briefing paper on how austerity effects mental health.
They said: “We have identified five ‘Austerity Ailments’, experiences increased by cuts which lead to mental distress:
Increasing fear and mistrust
Increasing humiliation and shame
Increasing Instability and Insecurity
Increasing Isolation and loneliness
Increasing experiences of feeling trapped and powerless.”
- IDS ” No one sanctions you on the first time”
If there is data to prove this statement is based in fact then we would like The DWP to provide:
What data does DWP hold on pre sanction warning numbers?
How many warning are given to Claimants before a sanction is issued?
How are warnings pre sanctions recorded?
- IDS”75% of those who have been sanctioned all say it suddenly helped them to focus to get on, 75% of those who have been sanction all say it.”
If there is data to prove any of the statements made my Mr Duncan Smith, listed above, are based in fact, then we would like the UK Statistics Authority to confirm that this is the case and/or to ask The Department of Work and Pensions to provide it or retract the statements.
We thank you for you time
Maggie Zolobajluk and Gill Thompson