Further evidence emerges of UK government setting targets for jobcentre
staff to sanction claimants
Scottish News: New evidence that UK government has issued benefit cuts targets in job centres
by Jamie Mann
New evidence has emerged suggesting that jobcentre staff are being encouraged to sanction benefit claimants, threatened with disciplinary action if they fail to reach targets by getting people off benefits, the Guardian reports.
This is the second leaked document to emerge, while the head of the Department for Work and Pensions [DWP] estate, Neil Couling, insisted that former leaked targets to the same newspaper was "an isolated incident”.
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The Malvern jobcentre newsletter states: "We are now into the new sanctions regime … and we are currently one of the worst performing offices with sanction benefit referrals and unless we improve we will put under special measures.
“That will mean staff from other offices and the performance team coming into Malvern and looking at all our processes to see how we can improve our SBR [stricter benefit regime] performance."
Job Centres have “little say” on recommendations, while staff could have their "personal individual performances" overseen to "achieve the end result".
Pressure for staff to meet targets has occurred in other sectors, such as the 22 financial institutions secretly monitored by the FSA last year.
Every single firm, including banks, building societies and insurers were selling loans and products to customers that they did not need or could not use - all to hit mandatory targets and gain a higher wage, or risk a salary cut.
The UK government will undertake a 12-month inquiry to assess the sanctions scheme, while Labour called for a more immediate investigation to follow up allegations of hidden jobcentre targets.
However, an inquiry into allegations of sanction targets given to jobcentre managers as part of the DWP scheme was rejected by Lords today (Tuesday).
Work Minister Lord Freud ruled out publishing an interim report, which could be misleading, but was open to discussing the operation of the sanctions review with the opposition.
Lord Freud said that there was no clear evidence of sanction targets.
He highlighted that sanctions were at around 4 percent prior to 2007, since fluctuating between 3 - 5 percent.
"There is not the clear trend in the growth of sanctions which some people have been claiming," he said.
Lord Freud continued: "We need to understand why some areas, some jobcentres, have higher rates than others and why some have lower rates. Some may have very good reasons for having lower or higher rates, while others may not. We therefore need this information to correct the anomalies, and that is normal business practice.".