Imposing benefit sanctions on disabled people is counter-productive, ineffective and “probably too dangerous”, a trio of experts have told MPs.The Commons work and pensions committee also heard that the failure of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to research the impact of its sanctions regime was “a real dereliction”.And the MPs were told that the only reason the government had not abandoned the use of sanctions for claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) – the out-of-work sickness and disability benefit – was because of “embarrassment”.Dr David Webster (pictured), a leading researcher on unemployment and sanctions at the University of Glasgow, told the committee that research was clear that sanctioning sick and disabled people was “counter-productive”.He and other experts were giving evidence to the committee as part of its inquiry into the benefit sanctions regime.Webster said that the increasingly harsh sanctions system had turned “a perfectly acceptable social insurance system into a sort of penal system”.Although sanctioning non-disabled unemployed people does push them into work sooner, he said, those jobs are of lower quality and there are “a whole lot of damaging effects on health, family relationships, debt and so on”.And he described a recent visit to a Glasgow jobcentre, in which staff described how they had not immediately sanctioned a claimant who had missed several work-related interviews, but instead sent a member of staff to his home to check up on him.Webster said: “They had found this person had severe mental health problems and was suicidal.“If they had not taken that sensible approach they would have had another national scandal on their hands.”Webster said the only reason DWP did not abandon ESA sanctions when the National Audit Office reported in November 2016 that their use led to a fall in the time claimants spent in work was because of “embarrassment”.And he warned that it was impossible to tell from DWP statistics how many claimants of the new universal credit (UC) who had been sanctioned were sick and disabled people.He also said it was a “bit of a puzzle” why the rate of sanctions under UC was so much higher than under the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance (JSA).And he pointed out that DWP was unable to say how many benefit claimants have had “escalated” sanctions – where a harsher sanction is imposed for a second “failure” within 12 months, one of the main features of the government’s 2012 welfare reforms – which he said was “very strange indeed”.Tony Wilson, director of policy and research at the Learning and Work Institute, said the use of sanctions by DWP had become “almost an objective in itself”, producing a system where about one in four jobseekers are sanctioned.He said the government’s failure to carry out any research into the impact of sanctions was “a real dereliction” by DWP.He said: “This is the only major welfare reform introduced after 2010 that was not evaluated.“There has been no attempt to evaluate the impact of sanctions, there has been no attempt to understand what are the impacts on individuals.”He joined Webster in criticising the use of sanctions on ESA claimants, and also pointed to “hugely worrying” findings by researcher Ben Baumberg Geiger that disabled JSA claimants were more likely to be sanctioned than non-disabled JSA claimants.Baumberg Geiger found that disabled people claiming JSA were between 26 and 53 per cent more likely to be sanctioned than non-disabled claimants between 2010 and 2014.JSA claimants can lose all their benefits for between four weeks and three years if they breach strict conditions.A third witness who gave evidence to the inquiry, Matthew Oakley, who carried out an independent review of JSA sanctions for the government in 2013, also criticised the use of sanctions on ESA claimants.He said: “We shouldn’t be sanctioning disabled people, people with serious health conditions. It is probably too dangerous.“People with quite severe mental health conditions, the last thing you would want to do to that person is send them a letter in the post saying we are going to take your money away from you.”
SAINTS have listened to their fans and have revamped how they sell hot food items on matchday.Catering Operations Manager Phil Hornby said: “The reason why we have changed from selling all items of hot food to a smaller, improved range of products is for a number of reasons.“We would like to focus on delivering better quality products across Langtree Park, rather than offering a vast range of average products. We hope that in reducing the range in certain Kiosks, we are able to improve the quality of each product.“We are also looking to increase service speed and by tailoring the product offering to the facilities in the Kiosks we are aiming to reduce waiting time for the customers.“As such, we’ve introduced some new products which include a Hot’n’Spicy Chicken Burger, St Helens’ own Cottoms Hotpot Pies, Shirley’s house made Steak and Saints Gold Pie and Pepperoni Pizza Slices. As well as this, we’ve changed our Burger to a fresh, house-cooked Gourmet Burger; with improved meat content, cooked fresh on site with a new Cobbled Sesame seed bun, fresh iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and a Monterey Jack Cheese.“We’re also looking at our accompanying sauces, so why not try yours with Heinz Burger Sauce or for those that like something with a bit more bite, we have their Firecracker Sauce.”He continued: “These products won’t be sold in every Kiosk, but we’re certain the walk will be worth it once you try our new products. Why not take some time to check out our new products and give us your feedback on what you make of them.”Kiosk and Food Served:Karalius Bar (Solarking South West) – Gourmet Burgers, Chicken Burgers, Hot DogsPopular Side Bar (Hattons Solicitors West Stand) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold Pie, Pepperoni PizzaWide to West Bar (Hattons Solicitors West Stand) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold PieAussie Saint Bar (North) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold Pie, Hot DogsThe Marching Inn (North) – Peter’s PiesKiwi Saint Bar (North) – Gourmet Burgers, Chicken BurgersVoll’s Bar (East) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold PieThe Eddington Bar (East) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold Pie, Hot DogsMurphy’s Bar (Solarking SouthEast) – Cottoms Hotpots, Shirley’s Steak & Saints Gold Pie, Hot Dogs, Pepperoni Pizza
FOLLOWING advice from the local council and police, fans attending the London Broncos v St Helens game on Saturday April 27, kick-off 1pm are advised to arrive at the ground early (gates open from 10:30am) and to use public transport where possible.The game was originally scheduled for a 3pm kick-off but has been brought forward to 1pm so as not to clash with the Army v Navy at Twickenham Stadium which kick-off at 3pm.Tickets for Saints fixtures are now on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, online here, or by calling 01744 455 052.
KYLE Amor believes intensity will be the key if Saints want to reap the benefits of pre-season.The Grand Final winning forward is expecting his teammates to hit the ground running on Sunday when they line up to face Widnes.“The game will be a good sign of where we are as a team and our intensity will be important,” he explained. “We will need that intensity to ensure we put into practice what we have been doing in training. The two friendlies are an opportunity to do that and we’re looking forward to it.“It was a short turnaround from the Grand Final to pre-season but as soon as we got back we said the final was done for us. We said we did something good in 2014; now we can go on and do something great this year.“We put a lot of miles in our legs and look fit as a team. Now it’s about fine tuning our ball work to get ready for what is coming.“We’ve been working on some little things – subtle differences that aren’t probably noticeable to the fans, but they are important as we move forward.”Tickets for Sunday’s friendly at Langtree Park, which kicks off at 3pm, are on sale now from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.Prices in the Solarking South and Totally Wicked North Stands will be £12 for adults, £10 for concessions and Juniors £5.Hatton’s Solicitors West Terrace tickets are available for £10 (adult) £8 (concession), £5 (Junior).
Saints have won two from two under Justin Holbrook and they’ll aim to keep up the pressure on the teams above them in the next two weeks.They face Castleford for the third time this season (fourth if you include the pre-season friendly) on June 4, before hosting Widnes on the following Friday.Saints will be seeking to avenge recent defeats to both sides and get themselves on the coat-tails of the top four.Tickets for both games are now on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 and online.