How the unemployed are targeted with sanctions

How the unemployed are targeted with payment sanctions

A Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant describes how she was subjected to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) draconian sanctions regime.

“I asked my Jobcentre adviser today why I was being sanctioned for missing an appointment that had never been made. She looked at the letter, frowned, looked at something on her computer and said ‘Oh, that was your worksearch review. Didn’t you know about it?’

Oh yes, I just thought I’d miss it to see what having no money at all for a month is like! I wanted to see if I could live on fresh air and felt that being homeless was an experience I couldn’t afford to miss!

Of course I didn’t bloody know about it! If I’d known about it I would have gone to it. Why don’t you just admit you forgot to tell me about the appointment? Or is it now standard Jobcentre practice to arrange appointments by telepathy?

It came as no surprise – I had been on a Jobcentre Plus (JCP) course last week and met three other people, out of a group of eleven, who had experienced the same thing. I am not sure if the sanction will be upheld this time, but they are always finding new and inventive ways to sanction people.

I make detailed notes of all my job searching, plus my voluntary work (that I found and undertook myself, nothing to do with JCP and not in a charity shop or litter picking) on my Universal JobMatch (UJM) account.

Everything is timed, I copy and paste reference numbers from other job sites, email acknowledgements, everything, into my UJM account. I jump through every hoop they hold up. And they still found a way to sanction me. Believe me: they sanction people because they can!”

  • The civil service union PCS, which represents Jobcentre workers, opposes the sanctions regime. It says the DWP’s appraisal system’s linked disciplinary procedure is used to enforce ‘expectation levels’. In other words, staff are forced to meet targets for the numbers they sanction.