Iain Duncan Smith's Department for Work and Pensions is presiding over "a culture of fear" in which jobseekers are set unrealistic targets to find work – or risk their benefits being taken away, leading charities have told an official inquiry.Oh, really? Such as ..?
In evidence to the Oakley inquiry, the charities Drugscope and Homeless Link warn that "the current sanctions regime creates a culture of fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. That may in fact lead to further benefit dependency and harming engagement with employment services, as vulnerable clients fear having benefits removed and never being reinstated."Ah, yes, that old canard, ‘vulnerable clients’ which is used to describe the piss-soaked tramps that daily beg money in Southend High Street.
Crisis, the homeless charity asserts: "People who have been sanctioned are already on very limited incomes and face a significant further reduction, meaning they are left facing decisions between buying food, paying for heating and electricity and paying their rent. Debt is common and many face arrears, eviction and in the worst instances homelessness".In the worst instances? But you’re a homeless charity, don’t they start out from there?
Oh, wait. I forgot the rather flexible definition you use. Never mind.
In its evidence, Gingerbread, which lobbies for the rights of single parents, also warns: "While sanctions may be necessary for a small minority of claimants who deliberately evade their jobseeking responsibilities, the current high levels of sanctions across all [jobseeker's allowance] claimants reveal a system in crisis and one that is systematically failing single parent jobseekers."
It says single parents are being told they must work full-time.Yes, and..?
The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers says "claimants are being sent on schemes with no discussion about whether they are appropriate to their needs and no opportunity for them to make representations about it". Adequate notification is also not routinely being given". It says some claimants have been told: "You need to spend 35 hours per week doing job searches and show evidence of 50 to 100 job searches or job applications per week."Well, what else do they have to do with their time? Time we, the workers, are paying them to sit on their arses watching daytime TV...
The DWP – to its credit – comes out swinging:
A spokesman for the DWP said: "It is only right that people claiming benefits should do everything they can to find work if they are able to. "Sanctions are used as a last resort and the rules are made very clear at the start of their claim.
"We will provide jobseekers with the help and support they need but it is only fair they live up to their part of the contract."Indeed so. Not that I remember signing any contract, mind you...