Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Sanctions removed from work experience - but only a small victory

The government today caved in to bad publicity and agreed to remove the possibility of sanctions from those who refuse to take part in the work experience scheme. Those guilty of gross misconduct may still be sanctioned with removal of benefits.

However, a DWP spokesperson confirmed this afternoon that it is only the work experience scheme which is affected by this change. Those on the work programme, which is run by third party providers such as the disgraced A4e, may still face sanctions if they do not cooperate with the programme. As detailed in the previous article on this site, it is mandatory to attend the work programme after a set amount of time receiving Job Seekers Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. The DWP spokesperson pointed out that the work programme provides much more than just work experience placements and referral to the programme does not necessarily mean undertaking work experience.

I also raised the issue of those who are receiving ESA and placed in the work related activity group being referred to the work programme and possibly for work experience. This is problematic since at the current time many people overturn the decision to place them in the WRAG on appeal and appeals can take a year in many cases so that people who are not fit for the work programme, never mind fit for work might be sent for work experience. The spokesperson did point out that people can present evidence and ask for a reconsideration before going for an appeal, although since at least 40% of those who appeal their decision go on to overturn it I do not think this is enough to ensure that everyone on the work programme is physically and mentally up to the task.

As it stands then, the removal of sanctions from the work experience scheme is a minor victory but the danger is that it will convince the public that all is well once more and the anger over people being made to work without pay may cool. Jobseekers and sick people can still be referred to the work programme where companies such as A4e can send people to do unpaid work experience or face loss of benefits. In the case of those who recieve ESA there is no limit to the length of time they may be made to work without pay.


  1. I wasv on Incapacity Benefit due to Depression & Panic/anxiety disorder.
    I was called into Jobcentre Plus to be told as i am now on WRAG although still ill i have to attend a Providers 2 year course.
    This is impossible in my condition, i told the Jobcentre interviewer i would not attend as i was ill & this was impossible for me. My Doctor has told me he doubts if i will ever be able to work again, the interviewer said i had to go or loose my benefits. I havent attended & the hassleing phone calls from Ingeus the provider are unbelievable....i have sent in a letter asking for them to reconsider there decision sending me on this so i am awaiting the outcome !

  2. Hi, I've been told that I have to go on to the work programme but am not happy about this at all. I have been unemployed for 12 months but have found part time work (15) hours a week to keep me sane. I have over 20 years experience of working and am finding it difficult to secure a job on the previous salary I was on.

    Can they legally force me to work stupid hours for a company that I probably have more work experience years that everyone put together on the floor? I'd like to know where I stand on this because I feel very aggrieved that I am the one without a job, I desperately want one and there are people in the job centre who are patronising and obviously dont want to be there!!!!! I've been told that there is an executive work programme whereby people with many years experience are able to go on to it, does anyone know about that?

  3. Im on A4e In the northwest uk, and all was ok until i became ill. i have a life long illness that i was born with ,wich not suprisiglly makes me sometimes ill!. i phoned a4e to tell them i couldn't attend a meting they said oh its ok, dont worry, you sound ill blah blah its ok.

    next i received a letter warning me of a sanction and to give them good reason in writing why i did not attend, so i phoned a4e, they told me to put in writing what happened, that i was ill, that dwp would contact them and that they would let them know everything was ok..which i did and this morning received a letter back from Preston benefit centre saying, i had shown no good reason(apart from a lifelong illness) and that my benefits will be cut for two weeks and that they will not be paying my job seekers after that date due to lack of NI contributions.

    I am a single parent family and can in no way afford to have no money for two or more weeks. I cant phone till Monday. i feel lied to and bullied. I will appeal this, hopefully all can be sorted with a phone call on Monday.

    I even stated on the form that i was a struggling single parent and couldn't stand any sanctions. i need gas and electricity, food etc for my child. benefits that i am entitled to. I wonder what type of person read the pleading for no sanctions , the struggling parent, comments i wrote..then pressed sanction. unbelievable really. im quite sickened by it all.

  4. I have been sanctioned for over a year now and keep getting it extended by 2 months,a4e say they sent me an appointment,4 letters all with the same date on,i had to live on 43.00 a week for me and 2 children,have to go without gas for days.