Please see below links to two recent DWP-commissioned reviews that may be of interest.
The report on the removal of the spare room subsidy comes after party conference passed a motion calling for just such a review. You will likely be aware that the party has already responded to the evidence that just 4.5% of those affected have decided to downsize by changing their policy. You can see the LGA Lib Dem statement welcoming that move here – http://www.local.gov.uk/web/lga-libdem-group/press-releases/-/journal_content/56/5550026/6375391/NEWS
The second is a review outlining some significant problems with the current sanctions regime. The report presents evidence that the current system is:
- failing to communicate effectively with claimants about their responsibilities, the sanctions process and ways of getting help such as the hardship fund
- overly bureaucratic by not allowing advisers to accept ‘good reason’ for missed meetings before referring
- creating confusion with different programme providers and job centre advisers able to apply sanctions, leaving it unclear for the claimant and others involved where the referral has come from
Whilst both of these reports represent a welcome switch to listening mode within the DWP, we will be working with our party colleagues to stress that the response to this evidence must make up for lost time in being swift and meaningful.
Many of you will be dealing with these issues in your casework. If you have any further evidence of system failure, examples of good practice or any other comment that can contribute to the Liberal Democrat response to these reviews, particularly the sanctions review, please email email@example.com.
The move to online claiming and digital access is to be welcomed.
However, we must strike a balance between sanctioning those who do not have computers at home and those who maybe computer illiterate.
Rather than sanctioning someone for 4 weeks for not using universal jobsearch, why not request that they attend an it course on computer literacy so that they are able to build skills for looking for work and attaining employment.
I have seen sanctions apply to claimants even though on paper, the old way, they were completing jobsearches. These have eventually after many months been overturned at tribunal.