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New research says benefit sanctions are ineffective and damaging

22 May 2018

The British Psychological Society is concerned by the findings of a study showing that benefit sanctions are ineffective at getting jobless people into work.

Conducted between 2013 and 2018 for the Economic and Social Research Council, it finds that such sanctions are more likely to reduce those affected to poverty, ill health or crime.

“The outcomes from sanctions are almost universally negative,” the director of the study, Professor Peter Dwyer from the University of York, told the Guardian.

The society has a long history of concern over benefit sanctions – cuts in benefit that follow a claimant’s failure to comply with job centre conditions, for example by missing an appointment with his or her work coach.

In February of last year we were one of a number of bodies to call on the government to suspend the system pending an independent review.

Dr Lisa Morrison Coulthard, acting director of policy, says:

“The society remains extremely concerned at the lack of evidence that benefit sanctions lead to increased employment.

We have seen increasing evidence that such sanctions undermine people’s health and wellbeing, and that people with multiple and complex needs are disproportionately subject to them.

The Commons select committee on work and pensions has now launched its own inquiry into benefit sanctions - how they operate, recent developments and what the evidence is that they work.

The society will be submitting written evidence and has offered expert members to provide oral evidence to the committee.”


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