CEO thoughts: Sanctions

Photo of Caroline, smiling white female expression, long dark blonde straight hair, patterned shirt, aged between 40 to 50. Photo accompanies blog on CEO thoughts on sanctions.

Caroline Collier, Inclusion Barnet’s CEO, shares her thoughts on sanctions, and some of the alternative ideas which could more effectively replace them.


Why sanctions don’t work

We are hearing a lot about carrots and sticks, and an extension to the sanctions regime. Make no mistake – and this is not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact backed up by extensive research – sanctions don’t work. All they do is create stress and suffering and throw people into crises which take them further away from the labour market.

The most cynical thing about all this is that politicians are fully aware of this. The evidence is overwhelming. It’s not a policy that’s designed to work or to get people into jobs, it’s just (I think this is the expression) red meat for the base.

Alternatives to the sanctions regime

So, what would work? Here are some ideas which have a good chance of saving more than they cost and which could also bring other – more positive – benefits:

Introduce mandatory DEI reporting around disability

Bring in mandatory DEI reporting around disability for large employers as much voluntary reporting around staff diversity doesn’t even mention disability. 86% of people with learning disabilities would like to work but face overwhelming barriers to doing so.

The answer is not to just coach them on how to write CVs (which many potential employers will consign straight to the bin due to lack of work experience) but to work with large employers on job carving schemes and celebrate those employers who do make these adjustments.

Enable effective Access to Work support

Get Access to Work (in principle, a fantastic scheme) to work properly, making it fast and efficient to get effective support for disabled employees, instead of the current situation where we’ve had to wait months for new employees to be supported before they can be fully productive.

Create more part-time and job-share roles

Encourage organisations to create more part-time and job-share roles and publicise how well this can work.

There are hundreds of thousands of people with energy limiting conditions who could and want to work but might only be able to be productive for 15 or 20 hours a week. Part time, remote roles suit perfectly, and when we advertise such roles, we get maybe 50 plus applicants in the first week (worth knowing when it’s so hard to recruit).

Introduce trial roles for disabled claimants

Allow disabled claimants to trial roles for up to 6 months, with the option to return to their previous level of benefit support ‘no questions asked’ within that period if it doesn’t work out.

So many people – who might have fluctuating conditions, for instance – would love to try a job, but dare not in case they end up without support if they later find out they can’t do it.


Improve accessibility and increase support

Pretty much all these ideas have a good chance of saving more than they cost – and they are practical, strengths-based and positive.

But no. Faced with rising stress and chronic sickness levels, high levels of mental distress and a Long Covid epidemic, this government says the answer is sanctions. The evidence doesn’t say that.

Instead, let’s do everything we can to provide accessible opportunities to the millions of people who would love to work if they could, and let’s support those that can’t to live a decent life without the constant threat of sanctions.


Find out more about Inclusion Barnet’s services and our research and campaigns work.

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This article was first published on Caroline Collier’s LinkedIn profile earlier this week.

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