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Officials at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have rejected recommendations to protect the most vulnerable from benefit sanctions.
A probe by the UK parliament’s Work and Pensions Select Committee found that reducing or completely stopping a person’s benefit payments because of non-compliance with the strict regime was “pointlessly cruel” and often “counter-productive.”
The committee recommended that claimants found to have limited capability for work should be exempt from sanctions because taking their only source of money would only make it harder for them to comply with the imposed conditions.
However minsters rejected the recommendation as well as a move by the committee to exempt claimants who are waiting for a Work Capability Assessment if they have a “fit note” from a doctor saying they are unable to work.
The committee said the government’s response proved it did not consider the negative impact sanctions had on people’s lives.
Frank Field MP, the committee’s chair, said: “Our report laid bare the inhumanity of the government’s sanctions regime, which it has pursued for years without ever stopping to check whether it works or what it is doing to the people it is meant to support.
“In response, the government has failed utterly to grasp the seriousness of the matter.
“It talks about reviews and “proof of concept”: it might want to take a look at the concept of not pushing disabled people and single parents—not to mention their children—into grinding poverty and hardship.”