“The system is cruel and needs to be reversed”: BASW comments on new research into benefits sanctions
New research by Welfare Conditionality revealing benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work underlines what BASW has been stating for a long time: that this system pushes the most vulnerable over the edge.
The five-year project involved hundreds of claimants and is the UK’s most extensive study of welfare and the application of benefits sanctions.
It concluded that benefits sanctions – the policy of docking benefits as punishment for alleged failures to comply with jobcentre rules – is more likely “to reduce those affected to poverty, ill-health or even survival crime”.
BASW chief executive Dr Ruth Allen, says: “This research shows the futility, cruelty and lasting damage of the welfare benefits sanctions system.
“It comes on the back of successive reviews and legal cases which have shown that this ideologically driven approach to job seeking under severe duress is ineffective as well as inhumane, socially divisive and disproportionately harmful to people who are already socially excluded through disability.”
Allen adds: “Now is the time to reverse these policies entirely and to commit as a society to properly incentivising and supporting people into employment whatever their support needs.”
BASW members have repeatedly reported the negative financial, health and behavioural outcomes of service users who have experienced benefits sanctions, such as disabled people being unfairly penalised while others are forced out of the system altogether.
As the professional association for social workers, we are advocating for a better system, one that tackles discrimination in the workplace, protects employee rights, reduces inequalities and ensures all citizens have access to a good education and training, as well as health and social care that underpin a decent standard of living.