Thursday, October 11, 2018

Benefit sanctions don't work

The Greens are currently campaigning to end benefit sanctions, under which people have their benefits cut and are left to starve if they refuse an arbitrary and demeaning drug test, or fail to take the first shit job they are offered. its a sensible policy, because the evidence shows tha tthese sanctions just don't work. Locally, MSD has concluded that the sanctions regime does not help people find secure and meaningful employment: those forced into shit jobs or into low-level training through the sanctions regime simply end up back on benefits again, with no increase in their financial security. And its the same story in the UK:

There is “no evidence” that benefit sanctions encourage claimants to get into work or increase their earnings, according to a government report published last month.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been accused of “sneaking out” the findings, which cast doubt on the effectiveness of a key element of its flagship universal credit system.

The report, published with no ministerial announcement on 12 September, shows docking benefits as a punishment for alleged failures to comply with Jobcentre Plus rules does not encourage claimants to apply for additional work, and in some cases “damages the relationship between the work coach and the claimant”.

But then, in both countries you get the feeling that sanctions regimes aren't actually about helping people. Instead, they're about punishing the poor for being poor, and finding some ways to chisel "savings" for the government (while ignoring long-term costs, of course). sanctions regimes are there to fulfil the vindictiveness of people like Paula Bennett and Judith Collins - not to actually do any good for beneficiaries, the government, or society.

They're cruel. They're ineffective. They're pointless. So why continue with it? Or are we really just into pointless sadism?