Fresh evidence that job centre managers routinely put pressure on staff to impose financial penalties on benefit claimants has been submitted to the Commons work and pensions select committee inquiry into sanctions.
Documents produced by the PCS union at the committee’s request present a series of emails from Job Centre Plus managers which the union says show that staff who fail to instigate or approve enough sanctions are subject to performance reviews.
It says the emails reveal how staff are pressurised to meet sanctions targets, seemingly regardless of whether the penalty is appropriate. Staff who do not meet “expectations” are given a “must improve” rating by managers and in some cases are denied performance-based pay rises, it says.
A sanction involves the stopping of claimants’ benefit payments for at least four weeks – equivalent to almost £300 – as a penalty for breaching benefit rules and conditions, typically failure…
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