- Introduction of the UK’s harshest ever social security sanctions regime in 2012 reinforced a dramatic upturnin sanctions. In 2012-2013 alone, ‘more people received a benefit sanction than a fine in the criminal courts’. While this ‘great sanctions drive’ is a defining feature of Conservative-led social reform, the ‘big stick’ version of welfare conditionality was not tested before its application. Here we present evidence that sanctions are harmful and ineffective in moving benefit recipients into sustainable employment.
The problem(s) with sanctions
Sanctions remove benefit income from recipients who break the rules, but ‘the rules’ can lack legitimacy. For example, in the case of jobseekers, vacancies might simply not exist in local labour markets or there may good cause for non-compliance, including illness. At the same time, sanctions can be ambiguous and vary according to work coach discretion or interpretation. Penalties also tend to outweigh the ‘crimes’, such as…
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