Current Benefit Sanctions Policy Is Bonkers Says Workfare Industry’s Top Spokesperson

sanction-sabs3Aspects of Iain Duncan Smith’s brutal benefit sanctioning regime are bonkers  according to an astonishing diatribe from the workfare industry’s top spokesperson Kirsty McHugh, Chief Executive of the  Employment Related Services Association (ERSA).

ERSA are the trade body established to lie on behalf of the welfare-to-work companies like A4e and G4S who hold lucrative contracts to run workfare and forced training schemes.  In a frank statement on their website McHugh says that the use of sanctions is based on sending political messages rather than evidence of what works and that a more humane system is needed.

According to McHugh, current rules which mean welfare-to-work companies have no choice but to refer people for a benefit sanction for not carrying ‘mandated activity’  are ‘bonkers’ and that this causes inappropriate sanctions to be applied.  She also backs the recent call for an urgent review of the sanctions regime made by the Work and Pension Committee saying that current policies have been introduced “without a huge amount of reflection”.  This is about as close as an industry spokesperson can come to calling Iain Duncan Smith a fucking idiot without losing their job.

Claimants should not be fooled, ERSA have not suddenly developed a conscience, this is about money.  According to McHugh, ERSA still believe sanctions “play an important role” although this is based on a “hunch”.  What the welfare-to-work industry wants is the power to make sanction decisions themselves, along with new rights to snoop on medical information the DWP hold on those in receipt of sickness or disability benefits.  This is a cynical power grab from an industry that has realised the more adminstrative roles they can seize from Jobcentres then the greater the prospect of the entire social security system ending up in private hands.  Their hands.

There is another reason however why these companies are now lobbying for a less draconian system – and McHugh even suggests a voluntary approach might be more appropriate for some claimants.  Welfare-to-work companies get paid when someone finds a job.  People who are hungry, anxious, or can’t afford to maintain personal hygeine do not perform well at job interviews.  McHugh’s comments are an admission that sanctions harm rather than help people’s prospects of finding work, something that has long been obvious to claimants themselves.  That it is now being said by workfare companies, who were previously Iain Duncan Smith’s best friends, is a damning condemnation of the coalition government’s bungled welfare reforms.

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85 responses to “Current Benefit Sanctions Policy Is Bonkers Says Workfare Industry’s Top Spokesperson

  1. The stupid thing is -I was sanctioned whilst on a sanction ( I had my hardship payment stopped -had to re-apply , and had nothing for 2 weeks (again) And they disqualified me form Hardship for a month on top of the 2 X times fortnight wait period. I would have had nothing for 8 week in total, out of 6 month sanction in total – fortunately I found a one weeks work. . My crime for being improperly dressed, when I went to register for work with an employment agency – My defence was that my choice of clothing was limited due to lack of money and the cost of laundry and cost of something new – They still sanctioned me for a problem they caused

  2. This is weird. The daily hate mail was trying to suggest that depression equals murder
    Following that mplane crash. Elsewhere I have been reading ( bogus) reports claiming depression and mental illness suggests murderous intentions.
    Add to that Brendan O Bullshit assertion that we should have the right to call mentally unwell persons ” mad ” and nutcases
    That’s the libertarian way you see. Me me. Me me sod anyone who gets hurt

    So then following that why would JCP want all these ” potential murderers ” to get a job where they ‘ obviously ‘ will pose a threat to others
    Maybe lock them up in prison ( private of course)

    • overburdenddonkey

      be much better to cure it imo…

      • They need someone to blame. Scapegoat helps with the ” healing ” process. Which is total crap

        • overburdenddonkey

          blame/abuse the victim of abuse? the affects of abuse are curable, which takes me back to it’s much better to cure it imo…

      • I hear you, completely. I’m forced to take a job supporting in a mental health establishment (otherwise I’ll end up sanctioned/back sleeping rough) ..never mind that the bas****s had me diagnosed with a mental health condition similar to Schizophrenia a few years back. I refused to be my diagnosis (because psychiatry nearly killed me in my teens and I don’t want or need their torturous drugs) but the DWP wouldn’t accept ‘stress and depression’ so I was kicked off ESA, back to JSA. It’s a fine line between coping and falling over the edge but i do quite well, even though they keep hitting me with bedroom tax and anything else they can find to make life harder. My new job will involve a rota and lone working night shifts. I’m very nervous, as you can probably imagine. Who’s face will it all blow up in? Mine, unless I start packing my bags now

        • Hi Zoe. Sounds like you have just landed one of those Third Sector caring jobs where lone working is part of the requirement. It’s my view that lone working in a caring type environment is totally inappropriate for all sorts of reasons, the only beneficiary is the employer, which is increasingly a charity trying to undercut the public sector in paying abysmal rates of pay with no enhancements for night work, weekend work or for bank holidays. Though it won’t materially change things overnight, you could consider joining the IWW, which is the union for all workers, but especially for those workers precariously employed. We do have a section for social care/harm reduciton workers, and you will receive various kinds of support and advice about how to safeguard yourself whilst at work. I very much doubt that any union would accept lone working as it puts the worker in a very vulnerable position. I used to work in a hostel for the homeless, and the minimum on duty at night was two people, and neither was permitted to leave the premises at any time during the shift duration.

          As you will probably be earning well below what is usually paid for this kind of work (I suspect that it’s probably around £7.50 an hour) you will be pleasantly surprised that the union dues for the IWW are low, and as it’s a union run by workers, for workers, (including unemployed workers, @ £1 a month dues) and is completely democratic, you can be sure that your concerns and issues will be taken seriously.

          I know that this is an unapologetic plug for the IWW, but I think that for many of us it is unions like the IWW and SolFed that offer us the only certain way for our voices to be heard. In the mainstream business unions your voice might, or might not count, and you may be sold down the road by a paid bureaucracy that might, or might not be in cahoots with your employer. With unions like the IWW and SolFed you can be certain that we are 100% on the workers side. In the IWW we even insist that anyone who gets a job where they can hire and fire leave the union as we consider that they are no longer workers, but are now bosses..

          Apart from the unashamed plug, (and I don’t get any benefit, other than potential solidarity) we are a very caring bunch of people trying to make things better for workers, but beyond that trying to improve life for everyone, not just the 1%, (we’d abolish them!).

  3. The ‘adviser’ at Groundwork did not like it when I accused her of being a political mouthpiece, but Kirsty McHugh has just confirmed that is exactly what they are! We are forced to listen to some Tory diatribe to get what is in many cases a pittance.

  4. The current policy on benefit sanctions is not mad, it is bad and dangerous, and the only way to see the back of it is to make sure that we have a Labour government after May 7th. It is too much to hope that the Idiotic Delusional Sociopath will lose his seat but his minion Fester McVile may well lose hers which would be a welcome bonus.

    • IDS could lose his seat if enough of the people in his constituency who voted Lib Dem last time vote for Labour instead.

  5. bobchewie –Please don’t equate Libertarians with the Daily Mail and its readers. That’s like equating egalitarian socialists to Stalinists- Libertarians simply believe in the freedom of the individual and very limited government. .

    • I know exactly the kind of libertarians I am talking about. Responsibility is abhorrent to them.

      • Libertarians not, doubt IDS could trump up a set of coherent political principles he is nothing but a malevolent shyster in the void that is passed off as political discourse in the UK.

        • these ” libertarians ” are just selfish cnuts
          Don’t care about anyone else but themselves

          • overburdenddonkey

            says you with a totally off topic me me me post above!

            • Bob Johnson bob Johnson bob Johnson bob Johnson
              There I just saved you from posting

              • overburdenddonkey

                so what? that’s not me me me…

                • Do you get paid for endorsing his product you even post about it on other blogs have you got a bob Johnson poster on your wall

                • overburdenddonkey

                  your post above was totally off topic, and about selfishness (misrepresentation of mhp’s)…can’t you see that post was selfish, as it was not even remotely on topic?
                  my posts to fellow were about what he was claiming in relationship to food banks and was on topic…ie pre feed vitality giving vitals of life….how did your post above relate to benefit sanction policies?

                • Stop it you two, now apologise and shake hands 🙂

                • Hahaha good thing am busy elsewhere

                  Donkey is OK… It’s the dr thing he goes on about a bit much. But it’s his shtick

                • Yes, he does go on a bit about the good doctor… I’m sure that Dr Bob Johnson does do good work, but to suggest that CBT and other therapies don’t have their place is a bit much, though it has to be said that often these therapies are used because they are cheap, and not because they are effective. One size does not fit all.

                • overburdenddonkey

                  no fucking way…

                • And there’s me saying Mr donkey was ok really.

                  Oh well

                • overburdenddonkey

                  what i’m not ok for standing up for the truth…you’re always bleating on about others not doing enough, like they’re not getting it right and only you do…when they have understood far more than you do and try to impart vital info to you and others on many subjects and on the subject of recovery from the profound affects of severe child abuse…as i have had to do inspite of being constantly blocked from healing by the/a system that prefers to keep one frozen and malleable to it’s power and word…that you unwittingly serve…and i was referring to your me me me attitude, not dr bob johnson, who i’ve never met btw and couldn’t care less if i do or not, but for some reason you decided to bring the subject up…it is his work that was pre-validated to me by a psycho-therapist i met in 1984 and i was staggered by what she and i learned about my childhood together…and how to face up to it and remedy it, this requires one to go where one does not to go to..but whilst were on the subject this very profound raw vid presented by prof joe sim is very worth seeing…see under solutions the work of dr bob johnson punishment; a failed social experiment …
                  the reason that i continue to mention dr bob johnson that apart from my 1st P/Therapist, his work not only improves on her work, but is the only thing/treatment that does cure the profound affects of child abuse…it’s a bit like me continuing to repeat diesel cars, need diesel fuel….you prefer to chase the abusers and bang against that brick wall, millions of them…i say tackle the actual abuse events, and the abusers power evapourates….the victim has all the knowledge, power, and truth inside of them selves to fully heal, it does not need to be heard by anyone but a true psychotherapist….

                • overburdenddonkey

                  if you can read you’ll see in this thread that it was bob that mentioned dr bob 1st not me…CBT is toxic crap…

                • overburdenddonkey

                  The governor you talked to was following the party line – the ‘replacement’, the so called DSPD units (Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder units) cost £500,000,000, and achieved nothing. A Sainsbury Mental Health Centre Report condemned them – they never once asked me what I did …CBT doesn’t go to the root – which needs cutting.’ you’ll also find a letter from him to the horizon program…i’ll also add that the drugs bill in parkhurst during that time plummeted to 0…
                  punishment; a failed social experiment presented by prof joe sim…and the solutions section by maverick psychiatrist dr bob johnson….

                • overburdenddonkey

                  yes, workfare is punishment…see shawshank….

                • overburdenddonkey

                  i take it you’ll find time out of your busy schedule to answer my posts to you…instead of you continuing to letting that slide….so as that you will acknowledge that as i was a victim of severe child abuse PART of which you constantly go on about, claiming that you are an expert in, when in fact you haven’t a clue of the suffering involved, nor what you are talking about….and you continue to patronize, dismiss and deny an actual experts account of solutions to this type of suffering, MINE….

                • overburdenddonkey

                  bob/sib et al…
                  cbt/ application/administration of pharm drugs + £bns wasted on this and many other destructive management and control projects and the further damage it causes, stored up for this and future generations…(see; beyond fear …mad in america…unsafe @ any dose…emotional health…and the myth of the chemical cure, as featured in DPAC conference page), sees, the symptoms rage, anxieties, distress, and agony as the problem and symptoms of mhp’s which one must manage and control and not as they truly are, symptoms of abuse…in fact they’re the emergent puss of blocked emotions and expression, which when vented, and this must be vented in a psychotherapeutic setting….cures the underlying mhp’s caused by abuse… and control to silence, gain power, and compliance over the victim of CSA/CA is a major factor in the damage done to victims by CSA/CA….management and control is bad for healing and humanity….victims of CSA/CA will be compliant in being managed and controlled, because that is all they know…and they certainly don’t want to go where true therapy has to take them for healing to happen….
                  cbt/drugs attempt to put the worms back in the can, instead of letting them out venting them with expert aid…the victim needs sanctuary and expert assistance to heal…see the work of expert in curing self harming et al, dr bob johnson….so when you have the time bob answer my posts in a comprehensive manner….

                • overburdenddonkey

                  p s you’ll also find that dr bob has added powerful new info to his home page….and intends to add more and more asap…btw bob, j v, wings over scotland, tom pride, require an income to operate, run their web sites and services, and are altruistic, they are all trying in a hostile world to make this world a better place, as am i…dr bob operates in exactly the same way….
                  he like j v etc would love a sponsor…the nhs is not free, but paid for by all…so to say dr bob is an exploiter selling products, and that i am involved in helping him in doing that, is a nasty insult, aimed @ discrediting him and me…..bob, open your eyes to see the difference between who helps and who doesn’t, who deserves their pay cheques?

    • It depends whether they are US libertarians, or European libertarians. US libetarians are right-wing nutjobs somewhat like the Tea Party and elements of our Tory Party, especially of the kind that read the Spectator.

      From the Wikipedia article:

      “Although the word libertarian continues to be widely used to refer to socialists internationally, its meaning in the United States has deviated from its political origins. Libertarianism in the United States has been described as conservative on economic issues and liberal on personal freedom (for common meanings of conservative and liberal in the United States); it is also often associated with a foreign policy of non-interventionism. Since the resurgence of neoliberalism in the 1970s, free-market capitalist libertarianism has spread beyond North America via think tanks and political parties.”.

      For a more indepth overview of Libertarianism, which is quite comprehensive in it’s scope, here is the link to the full article:

  6. I agree with Mr Void that ERSA has jumped on the bandwagon here – if they can take away the role of the Job Centre their fees would increase dramatically. However, this would also be a good “get-out” for the Government as they would not be held to account for people dying through benefit sanctions and lack of cash. So who is pulling the strings?

  7. Another Fine Mess

    McHugh even suggests a voluntary approach might be more appropriate for some claimants

    And ‘mandate’ the others?
    Do the idiots really think the unemployed will be queuing around the block for a place on the Waste Programme.

  8. overburdenddonkey

    sounds like a pr exercise in buck passing to me…don’t blame us we’re just following orders…
    they must have a pretty watertight set of compliance rules/orders to follow, not!

  9. Next time,instead of a dinky toy like an A320, it’ll be a wide-body eg Boeing 777,etc 500+ dead.Then we’ll see what ids and suey have to say …shame on you Susan!

  10. I sincerely think that all of these agencies should be closed “full stop”. It is false economy to keep paying these agencies for nothing. The courses that people are forced to attend, do nothing, to help them gain employment. If someone is successful in gaining employment through their own efforts why should an Agency be paid exorbitant fees – they had no input whatsoever. It is time to pay claimant’s the cash they are entitled to and end this fiasco once and for all. In evidence of my statement – workers from these Agencies have actually forged people’s names and signatures – what for – to reach targets and bring in fraudulent income – perhaps to keep their own job safe. We are awaiting the outcome of the Court cases.

  11. I think they realised in the last 48 hours that come May they will have to deal with a Labour government, They’re hedging their bets with a corporate denial of their complicity for the last 5 years in ruining people lives for entirely political purposes. But otherwise, yes, they’re trying to position themselves for more of the DWP work if IDS remains the boss. They’ve seen that Maximarse has now got 2x the money Atos had because that became a political football (for doing the same job with the same people in the same buildings using the same IT system) so ERSA wouldn’t mind a bit more of that please, too.

  12. Okay the addition that the Workfare industry imposes sanctions – how hippocritcal can you get – and still take the money?

    Secondly, the reasons why is simple to work out – it is the fear that the ConMen Conservatives get voted out and some else takes a real close look at what went on, like the UN is doing [imagine the emarressment of that internationally, and the way that contracts would dry up] – let alone possible charges of Corparate Manslaughter? Fines? Banned from Contracts? Whatever, its fear talking here.

    Lastly “George Smith” the cheif architect. Think on this – he was once Prime Minister. He had power over the nukes – god help us.

    He is clearly aiming to use his “Successful Time” at the DWP as a springboard for another leadership challenge, cue the odd things he said in his last interview for the Telegrapgh, could you imagine it?

    As I said God Help us.

    • Would a future government want to allow/pursue legal redress for claimants and the possibility of prosecutions?

      The compensation bill would be astronomical for all the unlawful sanctions and every other welfare reform illegality.

      • @Reckless maximus would be the insurance company and will find lots of reasons not to pay out

      • All depends on the law – they’d have to get it through Parliment, in Public… That would not pass the Public Sniff test as the Media would in this case be all over them smelling cover-up of murder or more.

        Good luck with doing that one, yes I mean you spying DWP.

        As for redress, no payment? Send in the baliffs with police escort for execution.

        If you can do it for civil & you can, it means you can do it for civil & criminal.

  13. The workfare “industry” should not exist, It’s a government creation that needs wiping out. It would be a money saving exercise as well, it’s a private bureaucracy, or in simpler terms, a huge waste of fucking time, and money.

  14. The Ghost of Guy Fawkes

    Parliament has been dissolved today… and flushed into the Thames 🙂 Thank fuck!

  15. There is a segment on Woman’s Hour at the moment about foodbanks. One of there ‘customers’ who was distracted by her kids when filling out her job-search diary missed out the last three digits of the postcode in one of the entries – she received a 3 month sanction!

  16. ………………..should be a lot easier to paint “IDS KILLS”, rather than “MCVEY MURDERER”, on a prominent building…….

  17. We don’t have to worry. Rachel Reeves is going to put everything right after the election!! The former BoE employee, who knows nothing of poverty herself, is clear that she will continue the good work of IDS only better and harder.

    When an elected officer of the crown (PM) has to go and ask permission to dissolve the elected body before calling an election you know exactly that you don’t live in a democracy.

  18. Pingback: General Election and Other Stuff | aspiblog

  19. Pingback: Current Benefit Sanctions Policy Is Bonkers Say...

  20. @Roland Bishop
    “The date of the general election should be April 1st”………..with All Fools’ Day extended to 23:59. However in the real world it 7th May so please everyone – GET OUT AND VOTE!

    • “GET OUT AND VOTE!” what for – more of the same, with less and less power??? One could be forgiven for thinking that voting under present conditions is in any way meaningful

  21. Well it’s a bit late now to be bitching about something they have been doing, without them informing on people to the Job Centre most would not have to go without their money and the stress of going through a appeal.
    Why can’t they find out first to find out what the problem was ….to put a doubt in because someone was wearing the wrong clothes is criminal.
    The unemployed have very little money or none left to buy charity shop clothes and if the Pimps were that worried they should have decent clothes for the unemployed to look like a king… After all they have the money .They are bitching now because of the election how much money can the next Government save by scrapping this money making scheme ..christ it ‘s not like we got paid jobs by pimping us out is it , But it’s a win win for them.


    Experts predict the most severe hung parliament.

    Then a second general election, when so few voters will turn out that we get a TORY / LABOUR COALITION.

    This explains why Labour’s Mr Balls keeps saying Labour will reverse Tory cuts, sotp sanctions, and Labour will not change anything in the last Tory Budget.

    OF OVER 323 TO 326 MPs AND OVER

    Only by the parties of the poor winning MPs, can Labour be utterly changed back to an anti austerity cuts party.

    A coaliiton need not just be 2 parties and can be a whole group of parties. This has succeeded well in Europe in many countries over many years.


    Never has the poor voter – poor pensioners – poor disabled – working poor – unemployed constatly sanctioned – terminally ill decalred fit for work – new pensioenrs facing nil state pension for life – had so much power.

    A government can be formed by a group of parties in coalition, called support and confidence.

    The more MPs from anti austerity parties of the poor, are voted into the UK parliament, the more chance of food for the poor not starvation.


    See on my personal website:

  23. Working Links Are SCUM

    Kirsty Mc-fucking-Hugh and the whole welfare-to-workfare industry can go BURN IN HELL!! Fucking SCUM!!

  24. Seetec Are SCUM!!

    The welfare-to-work-industry have been angling for the power to issue sanctions directly for ages; imagine being refereed to Working Links/Ingeus/Seetec/Learn Direct’s…. own in-house ‘decision maker’

  25. Reblogged this on Wessex Solidarity and commented:
    “This is about as close as an industry spokesperson can come to calling Iain Duncan Smith a fucking idiot without losing their job.”

  26. Vote Tory Tyrants Out of Office

    Tax the Rich Hands Off the Poor

    Socialism Not Slavery

  27. It is Important that People Get Out and Vote

    Voting Labour will Help to Get the Tories and Liberal Democrats

    The Country has Suffered since those Boneheads got in to

  28. Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    The sanctions system is now so corrupt and unviable that even Kirsty McHugh, the chief executive of the workfare companies’ trade association, has condemned them. Johnny Void points out that their attack isn’t based on conscience so much as self-interest. Starving, anxious and deprived people don’t perform well in interviews, and so won’t get jobs. And if they don’t get jobs, the workfare companies don’t get paid. Plus the fact that their condemnation of sanctions seems to be based on the fact that as yet, it’s not them that are doing the sanctioning. They still believe sanctions work, but don’t like the way their applied and the fact that it’s the state, not them, which has the power to do so.

  29. Pingback: It’s Time To Learn From History, Direct Action and Disobedience Is What Brings Governments Down | the void

  30. Pingback: Austerity Might Be An Opportunity Says Welfare-To-Work Boss As She Eyes Up Jobcentres | the void

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