Press Release: Richard Graham welcomes government shift in sanctions policy

Gloucester MP Richard Graham said that, “Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s decision for the DWP to trial a sanctions warning system is good news as it should reduce the number of claimants who believe they’ve been unfairly treated.

“Effectively anyone about to be sanctioned for breaking their contract with the Jobcentre Plus will be given 14 days to explain their reasons before sanctions come into effect.

“This is a better approach and I hope that the trials are successful so this is introduced across the country.”

The city MP also welcomed further changes to the benefit system, with immediate effect, which are ‘fairer and reduce the risk of unreasonable hardship’.

The DWP has also issued new guidance to Jobcentre Plus staff to improve awareness of vulnerability, and how conditionality can be varied, accepting in principle the need to make hardship payments available from day one of a sanction.

It has also extended the definition of groups considered ‘at risk’ for hardship purposes to include those with mental health conditions and those that are homeless.

Richard said, “This is exactly what Select Committees are for: to help government implement policy as effectively and fairly as possible.”

Note: Richard was elected a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee in 2010, before joining the government, and again elected in May 2015.