Benefit Claimants Sanctions (Required Assessment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:34 am on 2nd December 2016.

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Photo of Mhairi Black Mhairi Black Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire South 9:34 am, 2nd December 2016

I could not agree more.

A respondent to the public consultation stated that staff are human, and that

“they can make mistakes, like or dislike clients and their individual views can affect how they deal with the individuals on their caseload. If they don’t like or trust someone, they are much more likely to sanction than if they like or have sympathy for the individual.”

Again, I must emphasise that this is not a criticism of jobcentre staff, who do a tremendous job given the system with which they have to work. It is recognition that we are all human, and that we all have our bad days and our grumpy days, but unless there are clearcut rules and regulations of conduct in place, that bad day could translate into ruining someone else’s day—and that simply cannot happen when they have someone else’s livelihood and survival in their hands. This creates a postcode lottery of sorts, and a situation whereby the way in which a person is treated is completely dependent on where their assigned jobcentre happens to be, who they get as a work coach and what mood that coach happens to be in.