100,000 people given historic sanctions

In August 2012 it was ruled in the high court that the letters given to claimants mandating them onto workfare schemes of up to 780 unpaid hours did not communicate to people what was required of them on these schemes. This meant all the bretroSanctions2enefit sanctions that had been awarded through a range of different workfare schemes were unlawful and had to be repaid. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) went about appealing this ruling, but in February 2013 the decision was upheld.

After this the DWP rushed through the retrospective Jobseekers (Back to Work) Act, making the unlawful withdrawal of benefits from an estimated 179,000 people now apparently legal – although obviously this Act did not change the fact that people were not fully aware of what was required of them at the time. This Act was supported by the Labour Party and deprived people who would have suffered significant hardship of a total of £130 million that was unlawfully stolen by the government.

It now turns out that the cruelty of this Act did not stop there. Since the first court case decision in August 2012 they had stopped sanctioning for cases that would be affected by the courts decision, and had started to stockpile these decisions. The introduction of the Jobseekers (Back to Work) Act allowed them to start sanctioning all these stockpiled sanctions. At the time they rushed through the act 63,000 sanctions had been stockpiled, and by the time they started to sanction people in July 2013 this could have reached over 100,000 sanctions.

Over the last 3-6 months people have been notified of these sanctions with letters such as the one shown. As can be seen there can be a year long gap between the alleged event and you being notified of the sanction making it almost impossible to appeal as it is unlikely you have knowledge of what you did on that day* (and neither do the work programme providers!).

Not only were all 3 main political parties involved in depriving the poorest people of £130 million that was rightfully theirs, but are now chasing another 100,000 claimants for money through these historic sanctions with little hope of claimants forming a strong case of appeal*. All benefit sanctions are wrong, but this retrospective law shows how happy the government are to even sanction illegally – as they’ll just change the law later and sanction people a year down the line.

There is currently a petition calling for an end to all benefit sanctions and Boycott Workfare are hosting a Welfare Action gathering on Sat 15th Feb to bring together people involved in, or wanting to set up, groups that are locally trying to stop and overturn sanctions, as well as organising against other welfare cuts. Follow this link for more information on the gathering – it will take place in central London and a programme will be up soon. Get in touch at if you would like to come and also if you need help with travel.

*Appealing on the grounds that you have no record of events a year later could possibly work, but we have not heard of it. Let us know how it went if you have tried it. However if you have other grounds of appeal because you still have evidence or recollection, then use that instead. It can be worthwhile appealing as 53% of reconsideration requests and appeals against JSA sanctions are successful.


Comments (7)

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can you tell me where it say Labour supported it as i dont think there was a vote ?

Malcolm Avery

Lifestile proposal.
What we need is a NEW political solution to this problem. As a Victim of sanctions which has taken 13 years and three judges up to now. I know the situation well, that people are facing. I am 70 now and I will not let this go!
It appears that all parties are complicit in this 16th century attack on the sick disabled and unemployed
We at lifestile have proposed a new political party as part of the solution.
Please feel free to contact us in this regard.
Details and later Manifesto documents will be available on our website soon.
I feel that trying via the present political parties will be a complete waste of time!
Malcolm Avery.


your link is to a chat about a lot of stuff but not to a vote so you cant say Labour are in support so wrong to do this ?

Landless Peasant

I shall not be voting Labour because of this issue.


"Great Tory housing shame: Third of ex-council homes now owned by rich landlords"

Obi Wan Kenobi

Boycott Workfare - I thought this may interest you.

This is for claimants on JSA.

Post Work Programme Support (PWPS) the best bit is located between Paragraph’s 10 and 11.

Important note: WP completers must not be re-referred to the WP at any time or under any circumstances.

This is for claimants on ESA. – different link to the JSA one.

Paragraph 8.

8. Claimants who have completed 104 weeks on the Work Programme cannot be referred back to the Work Programme, even if they change benefit.

Boycott Workfare » Blog Archive » Court of Appeal says the government breached claimants’ rights, but the retrospective legislation stands

[…] The DWP says that to pay all claimants back the money they are owed would cost £130 million. They harp on the ‘undeserved windfall’ this would be for claimants; how difficult it would be to find the cash in these times of austerity.  Fortunately, £130 million is also exactly how much the government’s new workfare scheme, the ‘Work and Health Programme’, will cost each year. Obviously, there is a simple solution. The government should scrap the new programme – along with all workfare schemes, sanctions, and benefit conditionality – and pay the money back to the people from whom it was unlawfully taken: the claimants whose rights were denied by the retrospective legislation in 2013, which affected an estimated 179,000 people. […]