Three disillusioned former DWP civil servants have set up a website to help benefit claimants who feel they have been wrongly sanctioned.

The three women, who have not disclosed their identities and run the website from a house in the North of England, say that Jobcentre staff are being pressurised into referring claimants for potential sanctioning.

Since the creation of the website in June, the former civil servants have been inundated with requests from desperate benefit claimants who have seen their payments docked.

On one day alone last week they received 200 messages, and at the time of publishing this report nearly 15,000 people had visited the website so far. The level in interest has meant that the ladies have had to take on five more people to help administer the website.

Speaking to the independent newspaper one of the organisers, who is simply known as “Jean”, said that she has become “disillusioned” and “outraged” with how some unemployed people were being treated and chose to resign.

“I decided one Sunday to resign and I never went back. I had loved the job until the last three years but then I could see the way things were going. I got tired of fighting the system,” she said.

She continued: “It’s a harsh environment… everything is designed to trip people up, they are asked to do things that are unsuitable. Some offices are OK and others aren’t – it all depends what manager you have.”

According to official government figures the number of claimants who have had their benefits cut or stopped completely, often for punitive and unjust reasons, has rocketed since 2010. Over 870,000 claimants were affected by adverse decisions in 2013 alone.

Sick and disabled people are also being targeted with over 4,800 subjected to sanctioning in December 2013. Those affected had been assessed as not being ready to return to work, but may be able to at some point in the future. In total more than 120,000 vulnerable disabled people have been hit by adverse benefit sanction decisions up to 2013.

A spokesperson for the DWP has denied that advisers are given targets for dishing out benefit sanctions. However, a serving Jobcentre adviser, who has asked not to be identified, recently told the Welfare News Service how she had been frequently “told off” for “not referring enough jobseekers” for sanctioning.

She also said that “sanctioning will only get worse” with the introduction of Universal Credit, which is replacing a number of existing benefits and tax credits.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, said:

“It’s a disgrace how, for political reasons, Jobcentres are being turned from places where unemployed people go to get help into places of fear for many claimants.

“We want the sanctions regime scrapped entirely, it serves no purpose other than to demonise and punish people for being out of work.”




  1. It says it all for me that a friend of mine, whose mother works for the DWP, is about to get the choice between being made homeless or claiming a council pad – and her mother doesn't want her to go to the council. If these people have no faith in the system, what hope for the rest of us?

    • I was in the same position with two kids. I was down to the last day before I was able to fnd a property for myself that was in a price range that benefits could pay for while I cared for my kids and looked for a job since my husband left me high and dry. It's not easy nor is it right. Council houses are placed in some of the worst areas and, as a parent, you are looking for more than just a place to reside…you want them to have an education too. The Council is a load of bollocks.

  2. I'm disabled and desperately trying to become self-employed as no-one is willing to take on someone who has seizures and cannot travel at all without notice and help. While having a chat with Pinetree Trust they let slip that the Jobcentre are sanctioning people and that it's well known. Ingeus, who I also have to go see, the adviser there was relieved when the new manager came in and told them to act as a buffer zone between clients and the Job Centre and not sanction them to fill the targets.

    The DWP targets are worst kept secret of the Job Centre and the targeting of the poor – the more they lie about it, the worse it will look when the truth is finally released, which it will be.

    • Hi there is there an email address that I can reach you on-I'm a research journalist investigating Jobcentres.

  3. The picture says it all. Go back a few years and nobody would've thought of ram-raiding a JobCentre.

  4. My Husband was put on ESA and told it was voluntary, but it was not he was looking after his mother who later died, thinking it was voluntary did not go to sit for hours to look for a job as he is Disabled so they sanctioned him all over Xmas and i found it so hard to manage for 12 weeks they seem to have sorted it now , But noway should he be on a works related program as he is in constant pain + awaiting treatment, but thats it he can not get off it seems a joke that people are not treated as individuals.

  5. I'm at a loss for words today. I've been attending a mandatory Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) for over a year, although I suffer with Chronic Lung Disease, Arthritis, Depression and Anxiety. From the beginning, I have protested that I should be in the Support Group, not WRAG, but A4e, who run the group, say they have no contact with DWP regarding assessments, other than a report stating that I have been assessed as capable of attending. If I don't go along with their humiliating regime, I will lose my ESA. I dispute this decision, as WRAG should be for claimants who are expected to recover within 12 months. I am registered disabled, and my Lungs are never going to improve. Anxiety is now the most worrying of my conditions, as I have to justify myself to A4e at every session I am summoned to. I recently found out about ESA Regulation 35, which allows the GP to over-ride the ruling if they believe it may harm the patient's recovery or cause mental (or physical)health problems to have to attend. I downloaded the relevent information from BLACK TRIANGLE website. I visited my doctor today to ask him to complete the downloaded GP's letter, adding my details and his opinion. To my absolute horror, he told me he received a memo this week from the Regional Head of General Practice, instructing GPs at the practice NOT to fill in these forms, or to provide letters to patients. The memo also instructed GPs to respond ONLY to requests received directly from the agencies concerned. These agencies have never, and WILL never, request medical details which would excuse claimants from Mandatory attendance. I don't know where to turn. My axiety is overwhelming me. I intend making an appointment with the Regional Head Honcho, but I've locked horns with him once before, when my first ESA application was refused after he gave a medical report to DWP having NEVER met me in my life, so I fear he may have a grudge. What should I do? Any ideas?

    • I have just been put into the Support Group after 3 years wrongly in WRAG.

      Unfortunately, you are wrong about WRAG and the Support Group.
      You have to pass specific descriptors in order to get into the Support Group and you "need to demonstrate severe levels of physical or mental limitations or be terminally ill". Whether or not you are predicted to get better in the future is deemed irrelevant by the DWP. What matters is your inability to do certain things. For example, you are placed into the Support Group if you can walk less than 50 meters, you are severely incontinent, cannot cook at all or feed yourself …

      So, you may be very sick, but unless you can demonstrate that you pass one of the most severe descriptors or you are terminally ill, you will not be put into the Support Group.

      I too, was ordered to attend a "Work-focused interview" at the Jobcentre, where I was told that I was referred to A4E. I expected to hear from them, but never had any contact, asking me to go to A4E. I have heard on the grapevine that they deal with the easiest cases first, i.e., the less disabled, as they get paid from the DWP faster. The more complex cases, i.e., more disabled, tend to end up "parked".

      Do not worry too much about the Work Programme. Even if you get called in, they have to take into account your disabilities and therefore they will find it difficult if not impossible to assign you to anything.

  6. Simply put britts just dont want to work for minimum wage… Oh wait and they rather complain that foreigners are taking the jobs….

  7. There is now too much anecdotal evidence that targets do exist. Good on these people, it's about the poor, jobless and disabled had some expert help to fight the Condem's systematic attack on these people

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