A decision has been made to abandon a ‘yellow card’ scheme that was being trialled to support those who have been wrongly stripped of their benefits or suffered cuts to their benefits. The scheme offered a 14 day cushion to allow claimants to contest the sanction to their benefits and provide evidence to support their case.
A benefit sanction can be imposed on benefits including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Universal Credit. This means they are either stopped or reduced if you don’t do the things you agreed to do in your claimant commitment or if you miss appointments or meetings. In a bid to stop people being pushed into poverty at a moments notice the ‘yellow card’ scheme was being trialled in Scotland with 6500 people.
However it appears that the DWP has deemed the reform a burden on DWP resources. According to the DWP only 13% of claimants took up the offer to contest their sanction and of them only half provided evidence that reversed the decision to cut their benefits and this apparently not enough to justify the scheme.
Work and Pensions Minister Alok Sharma told MPs: “Given the additional burden placed on the Departmental resources and marginal gains achieved, the trial did not appear to be an effective use of the Department’s resource.
“We do not consider that the benefits of the approach are sufficient to justify the extra time and cost it adds to the process.
“We are now exploring the feasibility of an alternative process to give claimants written warnings, instead of a sanction, for a first sanctionable failure to attend a Work-Search Review.
“The aim will be to conduct a small-scale proof of concept to obtain qualitative feedback from staff on this new process, followed by any subsequent tests.
“More details will be made available once we have progressed with the design work.”
Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee Frank Field expressed his disappointment in the abandonment of the reform and told The Independent: “The government’s initial data on the early impact of the yellow card trial looked encouraging.”
“They suggested that the scheme was protecting hundreds of people in the trial area from being wrongly sanctioned. Applied to the country as a whole, that layer of protection would have covered many thousands of very vulnerable people.”
Let’s hope a new scheme is devised as soon as possible to avoid the very real dangers of plunging people into poverty.