JSA: Justice Be Done

Nine out of 100 JSA claimants in Lewisham have received a benefit sanction, the second-highest rate in London after the borough of Bromley.

The data comes from a report by Crisis, who argue this represents a "postcode lottery", implying that the variance across the country (Lewisham's rate is middling in national terms) comes down to aggressiveness of the sanctioners, rather than the quality of claims by sanctionees.

The report does not shed any light on the reasons for the regional differences.

Thanks to Ian for sending this through.

34 comments:

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

There should be no sanctions. No to conditionality to the benefits of job seekers allowance. To do so allows people without friends or a strong network to freefall into abject poverty. No food.
If you were sent down for a crime and you find yourself in prison, the law still requires that you get food. With sanctions some can find themselves even without that.

mwplant said...

did you notice that the East side of London has higher sanctions than the west side. Interesting thought

Brockley Nick said...

It would be interesting if you were to advance a theory by way of explanation.

terrencetrentderby said...

Would be intersting to see the split between East and West Greater Brockley?

Damian said...

Not particularly meaningful data without any indication of the reasons behind sanctions really

Iain said...

It is meaningful, the fact that there are significant differences between similar populations. It suggests the difference is not to do with the populations, but with the arbitrary application of the rule.

Skimming the report, the suggestion is that different workfare providers in east and west London, apply the rule differently. It also says that areas which trialled and piloted schemes had different results because they have been implementing longer (think that the suggestion is that those who have done it longer are more efficiently punishing the unemployed)

Workfare providershttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/work-programme-contract-package-area-and-prime-providers

snoop said...

i am sure its correct that its down to the persistence (quotas/targets?) of those ordering the sanctions rather than there being a higher rate of sanctionable behaviour. i'm not totally against sanctions though as I've spent too long living in the same street as an extended family of terminally unemployed, noisy, anti social, people who disrupt the entire area yet seem to have a higher standard of material goods than most of the working people around here.

Jim Connell said...

Sorry Nick but I don't really understand this piece. Not everyone in Brockley has a Sociology degree. If Lewisham is "middling" what is going on in Bromley? Is it good or bad? And can you "receive a benefit sanctions" ??? (singular/plural)?

Brockley Nick said...

"Is it good or bad?" Well that depends on your point of view, doesn't it.

Anne said...

Left wing clap trap! There are no rights without responsibilities. Of course there should be sanctions. The least we can expect is that people to whom tax payers money is given, fulfil their side of the bargain. Also, stop pushing misinformation - ever heard of hardship payments?

John said...

Try posting on here as an individual, preferably one who isn't shouting from a soapbox, and I'm sure your points will be better made and received.

Damian said...

That's quite possibly the case, though these numbers don't prove it. Nothing about these numbers establishes cause and effect. Also populations across London, for example East/West, are different.

D said...

That's quite possibly the case, though these numbers don't prove it. Nothing about these numbers establishes cause and effect. Also populations across London, for example East/West, are different. Damian

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Don't focus on us, focus on the points made. We're not asking you for anything other than to think critically about the issues.

Mr Jones said...

The critical thinking is that some areas are more successful at sanctions than others and the ones with a low number of sanctions need to up their game.


The following are lower level and intermediate sanctions and these are hardly too much to ask in order to continue receiving JSA:

you don’t go to meetings on time with your work coach or take part in interviews

you don’t do what your work coach tells you to do to find work, such as attend a training course or update your CV

you don’t take part in employment schemes when your work coach tells you to

you don’t meet your employment scheme provider on time or take actions they tell you to

you lose an employment scheme place through misconduct or give up a place on a scheme voluntarily.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

People are going without food, hence the rise in food banks. Remember you cannot just rock up to the average food bank and ask for food. You have to get a referral, this takes time hence people go hungry.


As for 'hardship payments', they are loans, that have to be applied for, again it takes time, you get 60% of the benefit sanctioned and the loan has to be paid back.


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/thousands-of-young-people-forced-to-go-without-food-after-benefits-wrongly-stopped-under-draconian-new-sanctions-regime-9162844.html

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

We are opposed to sanctions. They are punitive, it's a stick not a carrot. If the government wants to help people into work and to stay in work. The emphasis, should be on a growth economy with good well paying jobs.

Mr Jones said...

It is very evident you are opposed to sanctions. Are the above too much to ask from people on JSA? When looking for work, shouldn't you update your CV or attend training?

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

We are opposed to sanctions, because we do not think JSA should be means tested. It is money that a person without work requires to live.

If the person is interested and crucially able to get a job, they will do the related things, CV,training. Often people are simply not ready, it could be a confidence issue, an undiagnosed mental health issue, so a supportive approach will be more beneficial rather than trying to harry them off benefits.
It's about an approach that is compassionate with people rather judging, demanding, bullying.

Iain said...

How are the populations different, in a way that could better explain the results better than the suggestion put forward by crisis? Go on, give me one half-decent hypothesis

Think you're placing an unfair burden of proof on crisis here. How could they prove that it's largely down to the workfare provider? Bear in mind the providers aren't going to allow them to investigate their methods or staff directives etc. I think they have conducted some research that probably shows more research needs to be done on the impact of sanctions, research that should allow greater scrutiny of workfare providers.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

On Thursday there's a national day of action against sanctions, organised by Unite, community union.

http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/day-of-action-against-sanctions/

Brockley Nick said...

Here are several half-decent hypotheses I have completely made up but would seem to be able to explain relatively minor variations.


The variance in quality of applicants across parts of London could be due to:


1. The historical legacy of de-industrialisation in London in the 60s, which left families in East London without a working role model and created an entrenched culture of worklessness that takes generations to overcome.


2. A relative lack of suitable local jobs in some boroughs which acts as a greater disincentive for people to try to seek work (because travel across the capital in search of work is difficult or daunting for some people). Relatively poor transport infrastructure in some parts of the capital may also play a part.


3. Differences between immigrant communities that have settled in different parts of the capital - not least, in how long they have been here and how well they understand the UK labour market and benefits system.


However, none of us know and the Crisis study doesn't tell us, because they didn't even try to answer the question, they just speculated, same as me.

Damian said...

What Nick said.
I'm not saying you're idea might be correct, but you can't know from this information. As you say more needs to be done. This survey could tell us 'Lewisham council are horrible gits' or 'people of Lewisham are work-shy scroungers', or anything in between.

anon said...

Find yourself a proper job

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Stop the focus on us. Focus on the people who have the power in this society and who wield it.

Iain said...

Can't believe I'm getting dragged into this! Look at page 19 of the report, (a report by a professor of applied economic geography, among others). He excludes your hypotheses. We're back to the point that this is meaningful precisely because the causation some of you are hankering for does not exist, and the suggestion they put forward is inevitably unfalsifiable.

Perhaps these economic geographers could have presented us with every piece of data that does not corelate to workfare punishment, but that would be absurd when the obvious reason is staring them in the face but somewhat immeasurable.

They've done a good report here. Slagging then off for lack of causal proof when that is impossible is not fair. They have shown decent correlation, and not professed to show any more. That's enough for me, because I'm not naive about the way non-statutory providers behave operates when they get a sniff of public money.

Headhunter said...

Despite working in 1 of the most capitalist "kill or be killed" sectors, I find myself agreeing with you somewhat. There is an increasing tendency for us to return to the Victorian belief that poverty is the fault of the poor and that the only reason people find themselves in poverty is that they are basically lazy. Of course this is the case at times but there are mitigating factors. I can imagine that for some, sanctions might motivate (through fear) but for some it won't and it will just lead to a deeper circle of poverty and detachment from society and any chance of return. The question is, how do you help people like this other than throwing money at them?

Brockley Nick said...

Firstly, I haven't slagged the report off - I have simply pointed out its limitations.

Secondly, I have looked at page 19 and don't see where it excludes any of those hypotheses. All it says is:

"The distribution of the areas with the highest sanction rates does not relate in a clear way to economic geography in terms of the relative strength of the labour market, the size of the district or its urban or rural characteristics."



So he says he hasn't found a clear pattern - not that there aren't such factors at play, simply that he hasn't advanced or tested any theories. He does seem to think it's likely to be related to Jobcentre Plus districts - and I don't dispute that idea. But he doesn't prove it - just moots the idea.

anon said...

I actully chose to focus on annoying political spinners posting on local blogs, so my suggestion is still valid.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

This is a thread about sanctions. There is an event tomorrow about sanctions; the harm they do to individuals and the community. We mentioned it, here because some people in reading this thread may be interested, you are not. Fine.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

"The question is, how do you help people like this other than throwing money at them?"


If we have an economy, where there are lots of good jobs, well paying jobs, people who can will make the rational choice and help themselves.


The situation now, with sanctions is not about helping people to work, it's about getting the benefits bill down.

Catford Saint said...

DWP advisers in Jobcentres apply sanctions ( not local authorities) and will do so if claimants fail to take reasonable steps to find work such as failure to attend job interviews or dismissal from a job due to misconduct. If claimants are unable to work for reasons such as poor health or caring responsibilities they should be claiming other benefits, not Jobseekers Allowance which as it says on the tin, is for Jobseekers.
These sanctions are not new and have been in place for donkeys years. There will be differences in the rate of sanctions between locations for many reasons including the local labour market.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Today is a national day of action against sanctions.
You can follow the hashtags #No2sanctions or #RethinkSanctions to see whats going on twitter etc.

PeoplesAssemblySEL said...

Sanctions are not even being applied 'reasonably'


A young woman gets a job interview at the same time as her JSA appointment, she rearranges the JSA appointment. She gets a letter telling her JSA will be stopped, because the reason for missing the appointment was good enough.


And there's so many more of these stories...


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2347281/Unemployed-graduate-benefits-stopped-missing-job-centre-appointment-INTERVIEW.html





A Conservative minister has said there is an "inhuman inflexibility" to the way some welfare sanctions are applied.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31716210


The reason why this is happening is because targets have been given to Jobcentre workers. The DWP wants benefits bill down and going down this crude route to achieve it.


Watch -> this is a local man, who's been sanctioned. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/25/jobcentre-newsletter-sanctions-targets

Brockley Central Label Cloud