Three new criticisms of the DWP

“A target-driven culture created perverse incentives” – I think we can agree with this recent article from charity Turn2us relating to a report by the National Audit Office.



The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are letting down disabled people who want to get back into work, overworking their Jobcentre work coaches and being too target driven, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

The report highlights three significant failures with the DWP and Universal Credit that need to be fixed.

jobcentre plus

Disabled people and work

Firstly, the report finds that the Government’s goal of getting 1 million more disabled people into work cannot actually be used to measure the success of its efforts as it cannot be linked to any specific policy.

Additionally, factors such as people who are already in work now reporting a disability may skew the figures. The NAO says this target means the Government cannot be held to account.

Before this target of 1 million, the Government’s original goal was to halve the disability employment gap. That gap has actually only narrowed by 4 percentage points since 2015.

Overworking Jobcentre staff

The second main finding from the NAO report was that work coaches are at risk of being severely overworked which affects the quality of the service.

While some work coaches are already saying they are overworked, the number of claimants they each work with is expected to more than double from 130 to 280 over the next few years.

Within this, the number of claimants per work coach in the intensive work search group (who require the most time with work coaches) is expected to increase from 96 to 133 (an increase of 39%).

Overly target driven

Finally, the report highlights that the DWP has created a target-driven culture which results in perverse incentives, according to the NAO.

Work coaches were often focusing on claimants who were easiest to help into work, so they could meet there targets, rather than focus on those who need help the most.

Work coaches were also happy to get people into temporary employment to meet targets instead of getting them long term and meaningful employment.

Read the full NAO report



By the third week of the sanction I was only eating once a day !!

Read how benefit sanctions can affect people’s lives

A sanction is a cut or temporary cessation in your benefit if you fail to meet your claimant commitment without good reason. If you do this on numerous occasions, you could face a sanction of up to three years.

Benefits including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)Universal Credit (UC) and Income Support can be sanctioned.

For example, if you are claiming JSA and you fail to turn up to appointments or fail to apply for or accept a job you can be sanctioned.

However, some people have asserted that sanctions of being handed out cynically to meet targets.

Hungry man

Over 1,500 people had their ESA sanctioned in September 2016 alone. In addition, more than 41,500 disabled people have had their ESA sanctioned since December 2012.

Sanctions can have devastating consequences for those who receive them.

Alison Taylor, Director of Operations at Turn2us, said: “We know from those who seek our help the desperate situation people can be left in, if these essential benefits are cut. A rise in these sanctions is therefore very concerning.”

Benefit sanctions can lead to debt, rent arrears, foodbank use, mental health issues, and destitution.

In some extreme cases, such as that of David Clapson, benefit sanctions can have lethal consequences. The diabetic former soldier was found dead, starved and penniless in his flat.

One man’s experience

A man from West Yorkshire told Reddit about his sanction story:  “I was at the jobcentre at the allotted time; however, my advisor was now based in a different part of the building so when they called my name I didn’t answer because I was waiting in the area they always were previously.

“So even though I was in the building, I was classed as a no show. I attempted an appeal but the 13 week sanction was upheld.

“By the third week of the sanction I was only eating once a day, alternate between porridge and rice for variety.

“I leave my bedsit about 1 am if it’s not raining and head into the city centre to raid cigarette tab ends from pub ashtrays. I do this for two reasons; partly I’m addicted to nicotine, but mostly smoking helps with the hunger pangs.”

If you have been sanctioned

If you have been sanctioned and disagree with the decision, you can challenge the decision by asking for a Mandatory Reconsideration within one month of the decision. See the Gov.UK information on Appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal

Source: Turn2us