Work Programme

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 23rd January 2015.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he is taking to ensure that the approach of Work Programme providers to benefit sanctions referrals is consistent.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, whether he has made an assessment of the consistency between different Work Programme providers of procedures on referrals for benefit sanctions.

Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions)

Sanctions are a necessary part of the benefits system, but they are used as a last resort in a tiny percentage of cases where people don’t play by the rules.

There are no targets for sanctions and in fact there were fewer sanctions this year compared to last year. We also have a well-established system of hardship payments for benefit claimants who have little or no other resources available to them.

DWP has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime to ensure that sanctions are always and only applied where appropriate to do so. The majority of claimants become fully engaged in Work Programme activities that will give best prospects of employment that lead to a job without the possibility of having a sanction imposed through non-compliance with a mandatory activity.

Improvements specifically aimed at improving consistency in sanction referrals have included the introduction of Provider Direct. This service provides information that enables providers to make an informed decision as to whether they need to raise a sanction doubt or not. We have also introduced improvements to the way Jobcentre Plus and Providers communicate information by providing single points of contact for queries and referrals.

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