Government to update communications with benefit claimants on sanctions

The government is set to update the way it talks to benefit claimants, setting up a specialist team to look at all communications – including claimant letters – and working more closely with local authorities and advice centres to simplify the system.

Independent expert Matthew Oakley has conducted a review of how Jobcentre Plus and Back to Work scheme providers communicate with claimants who have their benefits stopped – called a sanction – for not keeping up their end of the bargain.
Acknowledging that sanctions have a vital role to play, Mr Oakley has today made a series of recommendations that will help encourage more claimants to do the right thing – and help save taxpayers’ money – which the government has accepted.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said:

"Every day Jobcentre Plus advisers up and down the country are helping people get the skills they need to get a job and turn their lives around, and only this week we saw employment match the highest level on record.

"Our welfare reforms are helping to transform people’s lives, and we are committed to continuous reform of the sanctions system to ensure it remains fair to taxpayers and to claimants.

"By sticking to the government’s long-term economic plan and making further reforms, it will mean even more people can help build a better future for themselves and their families."

Matthew Oakley, author of the review, said:

"The sanctions system plays a vital role in the modern day welfare system. While the majority of those sanctioned do understand what is expected of them, more needs to be done to help the most vulnerable. The recommendations in my review will ensure that all claimants know when and why a sanction will be applied and give them the information they need to challenge that decision and claim the financial help that they might need.

"It is encouraging to see the department already making great strides to improve the system and I hope my proposals are taken forward to ensure that many more people are helped into long-term and rewarding jobs."

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