ERSA backs Committee call for independent review of the conditionality regime – jobseeker sanctions should only be used as a last resort

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), the representative body for the employment support sector, has today (24 March 2015) welcomed the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s  report which calls for an independent review of the sanctions regime.

The report reflects evidence, provided to the Committee by ERSA, that more discretion should be given to frontline advisers to accept ‘good cause’ when a jobseeker has not complied with mandated conditions. It also backs ERSA’s call that information from the Work Capability Assessment should be routinely shared with Work Programme providers so that vulnerable jobseekers are not disadvantaged in the system. 

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, said:

‘Employment support works best when there’s a strong positive relationship between jobseeker and adviser.  Some elements of the current sanctioning regime may actually drive a jobseeker further away from work rather than closer to it.

‘We’re delighted the Select Committee has backed our calls for more flexibility in the system so that Work Programme providers can accept ‘good cause’ rather than being forced to raise doubts which could lead to a sanction. 

‘We’re also pleased that the Committee has highlighted the problem of information sharing. At present Work Programme providers do not routinely receive information on jobseeker vulnerabilities – this is simply not good enough when we’re dealing with some of the most vulnerable people in society.’

ERSA has previously called for the speedier implementation of recommendations outlined in the recent Oakley Review, which calls for greater flexibility in the system.  Today’s report by the Select Committee builds on the Oakley recommendations by examining wider policy implications of the sanctions regime. 


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Notes to Editors

1. The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the sector body for those delivering or with an interest in employment support services.  ERSA’s membership spans the private, voluntary and public sectors and ranges from large multi-nationals through to small specialist charities.  It has nearly 190 members, including all prime contractors of the Work Programme. The majority of its members are not for profit.
2. ERSA’s submission to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into sanctions is attached. 
3. ERSA is able to set up interviews with jobseekers who have found work and providers of employment support services. Case studies are available on ERSA’s website. Interviews with ERSA’s Chief Executive Kirsty McHugh are available on request.