Fear won't get people into work ..it's time to end cruel sanctions; NO ONE WINS IN HEARTLESS BENEFIT REGIME.
The latest DWP committee report on benefit sanctions is just another damning indictment of the UK Government's punitive benefit sanctions regime.
This report finds, as many other experts and stakeholders have, that there is little to no evidence that sanctions get people into work, while there is an overwhelming body of evidence that sanctions are deeply detrimental to claimants.
It also finds that, in particular, benefit sanctions imposed on people with disabilities or health conditions are "harmful and counterproductive".
It follows a wide-ranging, five-year academic study published earlier this year by the Welfare Conditionality group of academics which looked in great detail at the behavioural impact of benefit sanctions on specific groups.
They also found that not only is the sanctions regime "largely ineffective" in helping people into work, it actually "regularly initiates and sustains a range of negative behaviour changes and outcomes".
These behaviours include "increased poverty", "disengagement from the social security commission", "exacerbated ill health and impairments" and "movements into survival crime".
While not surprising, this is deeply disturbing.
One of the most striking conclusions of this study was that the sanctions system has created a job-seeking process where the threat of sanctions - rather than the hope of entering employment - become the driving force of people's interaction with the labour market.
The report found that this type of conditionality made Jobcentre users feel that their interaction with work coaches and DWP were more about surveillance and monitoring rather than tailoring support to their needs.
Interestingly, very little has been said in this debate about the impact of benefit sanctions on employers themselves.
Research from Leeds University last year, which surveyed employers in the UK and Denmark, found that they "felt that benefit conditionality could 'tarnish' candidates and were dissatisfied about receiving large numbers of job applications as a result of conditionality and entitlement conditions, particularly in the UK".
What the UK Government have created seems to be a lose-lose situation for both claimants and employers.
Do you think you perform well when driven by fear? How about when the root of that fear is that you might not be able to pay your rent or feed your children? Nobody can operate effectively under these conditions, and absolutely nobody should be expected to. The sanctions regime takes the security out of social security - it has created a psychologically and emotionally tortuous system focused on compliance and targets rather than empathy and support.
The startling thing is that the Tories can't even argue that this system saves money for taxpayers - because it doesn't.
Not only does it punish disadvantaged people, it's also pretty much a waste of money.
And while the UK Government doesn't seem to want to admit that, the National Audit Office worked this out for them in December 2016 - finding that the application and monitoring of sanctions costs up to PS250million a year, but in 2015 the policy only "saved" PS132million.
What this punitive conditionality also does is risk pushing people off the radar, where they can fall into terribly vulnerable circumstances and self-denying support that should be available to them. Job-seekers who need financial support are between a rock and a hard place - either accept the punitive conditionality set by DWP and risk a sanction, or try to go it alone with no financial or coaching support.
The idea that people are being pushed out of the social security system with anxiety and fear is a disgrace. This is no longer social security - it is social compliance.
The SNP Government in Scotland fought with Westminster to ensure that people in Scotland taking part in employment programmes being delivered through devolved powers would not face sanctions - and won the fight.
In Scotland, we are using new powers to deliver exactly what the DWP committee report calls for - voluntary employment support for people with a disability or health condition.
However, we want to see full devolution over social security. Only then can we ensure that people in Scotland do not have to go through this appalling sanctions regime.
The UK Government continue to blinker themselves to the facts on sanctions but surely now they cannot argue with the overwhelming body of evidence that this system is destroying lives.
The Tories need to put the support and security back into social security.
A report from the UK Government's Work and Pensions Committee last week concluded benefits sanctions were "harmful and counterproductive".
Despite this, the Tories appear intent on continuing with a scheme estimated to cost millions of pounds more than it saves.
Here, Neil Gray MP, the SNP's spokesman on social justice, tells why sanctions should be scrapped.
NEGATIVE Jobcentre users need support not surveillance