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Benefit Sanctions

Volume 698: debated on Monday 28 June 2021

What recent assessment she has made of the potential effect of reintroducing benefit sanctions on vulnerable claimants. (901847)

As we approach 19 July, we have to have a business-as-usual approach in how we traditionally respond to the needs of our claimants, but I want to stress that, as ever, the claimant commitments are perfectly tailored to different benefit recipients. We also take into account the different vulnerabilities that people face. That is why, just over a year ago, we changed the process so that decisions would be made in a more centralised way to get a consistent approach, recognising that we want to ensure that people fulfil their commitments and the requirements made by DWP in order to continue to receive the benefits that they have.

As the DWP resumes face-to-face assessments, we know that more people will be hit with sanctions. We also know that this will disproportionately affect care leavers, as they are more likely to be sanctioned. Beyond scrapping sanctions altogether, will the DWP set up an internal marker and a single point of contact in each jobcentre to assist care-experienced claimants?

I will be open: I do not know how the law applies in Scotland. I know that in England and Wales there is a duty on councils to continue to have an element of responsibility for people who have left care until they reach the age of 25. I want to encourage the hon. Lady by saying that, right around the country, our jobcentres and work coaches are mindful of the extra demands, and that we continue to make sure that people’s individual vulnerabilities are accounted for.