As you’ll no doubt have read, the work and pensions select committee meets this coming week to hear evidence about benefit sanctions, with sanctioning connected to crime and depression.
Okay. I suppose that hearing will at least draw attention to the sanctions problem and the extent of it. It’s the What Next part that I wonder about. A lot of people know how things are. I spent many hours speaking to JSA claimants at jobcentres in 2014 (have posted some of those interviews below) and at least some of those people had complained to their MPs about sanctions and their treatment at jobcentres. Like many people, I can tell you now that there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that stopping jobseekers’ allowance – already a meagre amount of money – to people who have nothing leads to crime and depression. You don’t have to look too closely to understand that that is the whole point of the sanctions/jobcentre/work programme exercise: to push anyone who struggles for work to the edge in one way or another and to terrorise everyone else into tolerating rotten pay and treatment just to keep a job. There’s very little mainstream opposition to that idea. I certainly don’t count this.
Three points of note from 2014:
1) Nobody I met ever got a job or even a job interview through their jobcentre. Not a single person. Everyone I met who found work did so through their own networks, applications and contacts.