But welfare claimants think penalty is reasonable

Cutting the unemployment benefits of lone parents who miss jobcentre interviews does not encourage them to get a job, a study has found.

The study for the department for work and pensions found docking benefits “does not encourage lone parents into the jobs market”.

The report, which included interviews with 40 lone parents and three groups of JobCentre Plus staff, looked at whether cutting income support when lone parents miss “work focused interviews” made them more likely to look for a job.

It found those lone parents who had missed interviews tended to do so because of health problems, caring responsibilities or disorganization. They were usually unaware that they had been sanctioned until they noticed the reduction in their benefits. Those parents who did not re-book their interview and so continued to have their benefits docked usually had higher levels of debt and ill health than the others and were less likely to check the accuracy of their benefit payments.

However most of the lone parents thought it was reasonable to dock benefits from those who missed the interviews and some thought it was essential to do so to prevent fraud. Many of those surveyed wanted to work.