The High Court decision on August 6th 2012 that sanctions imposed by the DWP upon a Jobseeker cutting his money by 26 weeks was unlawful means that many thousands of
unemployed people will be entitled to bring claims to recover money taken from
Following this judgment there now will be at least a 1 month opportunity to challenge any sanction imposed on JSA by Jobcentre Plus where insufficient information or reasons have been supplied to a claimant. An appeal should be commenced by writing to the Jobcentre Plus which imposed the sanction.
There may also be many other grounds of appeal to challenge sanctions in the future. Administrative decisions made by the DWP have to be reasonable in law, considering all
relevant facts, disregarding irrelevant facts and not acting perversely or irrationally (what are known as the ‘Wednesbury principles’ (2). Thus, for example, decisions to take away benefits from a claimant for up to 26 weeks may be unlawful as unreasonable and being not proportional.
Indeed, following this ruling this period may actually be as much as 3 months to challenge any sanction imposed since 2009, using the remedy of judicial review through the High Court – this is a further point the High Court needs to clarify.
Furthermore, a statement made by Welfare Minister, Lord Freud in Parliament during the debate on welfare reform on January 25th he stated that all decisions to sanction should involve proper consideration of the facts and that :
“decision-makers will have to consider all relevant matters raised by the claimant within a particular time period, including information about a claimant’s health condition and financial circumstances”
needs to be brought to the attention of a number of branches of Jobcentre Plus.
(1)http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/reilly-wilson-sec-state-work-pensions.pdf ; see also: “Unpaid work scheme ruling at High Court could prompt wave of benefit rebates” The Guardian August 6th 2012 http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/06/unpaid-work-scheme-benefits-rebate?CMP=twt_fd
(2)See Associated Provincial Picture Houses v Wednesbury Corporation  1 KB 223 and the judgment of Lord Greene, Master of the Rolls.