DWP stands firm on benefits sanctions

Reporter: Robbie Gill
Date published: 04 February 2014

THE Department for Work and Pensions has defended itself against scathing reports of unfair benefit sanctions.

On Friday the Chronicle told the story of a man who was forced to give up work with heart problems and had his benefits axed for failing to complete a capability assessment — after suffering a heart attack during the examination.

The man was one of several examples of claimants who have had benefits slashed for reasons they considerunfair.

Many have taken their case to Oldham West and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams, whose campaign over unfair sanctions has forced a Work and Pensions Committee review.

But an unrepentant DWP insists decisions are taken only after “thorough assessment”.

A DWP spokesman said: “We are committed to helping people move from benefits and into work if they are capable, while giving unconditional support to those who need it.”

The spokesman said sanctions are used only as a last resort: “We make it clear to people at the start of their claim what the rules are and that they risk losing their benefits if they don’t play by them.”