The DWP has had to cancel a week-long celebration of sanctions that have caused misery and hardship to millions and targeted some of society’s most vulnerable people.{jcomments on}

Conditionality week” was due to begin today, but was discovered by the Guardian in documents obtained using the Freedom of information act and hastily cancelled by the DWP.

According to a memo obtained by the Guardian, the event was about “ celebrating how far we have come since new tougher sanction levels were introduced last year ...”

The reality is that benefit sanctions have become a new and deeply dishonest way of cutting the benefits bill, with Jobcentres which fail to sanction enough claimants facing sanctions themselves. The result of what are, in effect, targets for sanctions is that the most vulnerable claimants are the most likely to have their benefits stopped for periods of up to three years.

As we reported earlier this month, homeless JSA claimants are ten times more likely to be sanctioned than non-homeless claimants, with predictable effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.

And the numbers involved are truly staggering, with literally millions of sanctions having been issued since the coalition took office, according to DWP statistics.

In April 2006 just 4,350 JSA claimants were sanctioned.

By March 2010 this had risen to 26,870. In April of the same year this almost doubled to 51,390 and rose inexorably with the advent of the coalition government the following month. In July 2012 there were 110,470 sanctions issued in just one month.

That the DWP considers making the lives of the its most vulnerable claimants even more painful a cause for a week-long celebration tells us everything we need to know about the instincts and humanity of the people now running this department.


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