"Demanding compliance from people means they end up jumping through hoops rather than finding jobs that are a good fit for them"
Benefit sanctions make it harder for claimants to find a good job, new research has found. According to the research carried out by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), the majority of people required to attend job centres to access benefits think that being sanctioned undermines their ability to find a good job.
According to a report in PoliticsHome, NEF commissioned polling of unemployed people receiving universal credit and required to attend job centre appointments found that 61 per cent said the threat of sanctions found it harder for them to have a trusting relationship with support services. That figure is higher for unemployed people who are also disabled – at 69%. 63% also said that the threat of sanctions negatively impacted their mental health, rising to 73% for disabled people.
Welfare claimants were also likely to report negative experiences of attending job centre appointments. 73 per cent reported that their first meeting at the job centre focused on the rules and obligations placed on claimants. 59 per cent also said they felt that the job centre wanted them to get a job as quickly as possible, rather than finding a role which was a good fit.
The polling coincides with the publication of a new report from NEF on the benefits system. The report argues that a ‘conditionality’ based system – ie. one that sets requirements people must meet in order to receive benefits – is ineffective and damaging.
Tom Pollard, NEF’s head of social policy, told PoliticsHome: “Demanding compliance from people means they end up jumping through hoops rather than finding jobs that are a good fit for them”.
He continued “This is particularly important when so many people who are out of work face additional barriers such as health conditions and disabilities. It doesn’t have to be this way. Politicians need to help reset the relationship between the Jobcentre and people out of work, to focus on engagement and support rather than compliance and punishment.”
NEF’s report argues that the current ‘conditionality’ based welfare system is punitive, and that a reformed benefits model would see a greater emphasis on fostering relationships between claimants and the state, developing personalised plans of action for claimants and giving people more choice and control over the support they receive.
Chris Jarvis is Head of Strategy at Left Foot Forward