Benefit Sanctions briefing, on DWP stats release of 19 Feb 2014 by

Key points from the new statistics

Highest numbers and rates of sanctions to date

Total JSA plus ESA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 were 897,690. This is the highest for any 12-month period since JSA was introduced in 1996. (Figure 1)

The number of JSA sanctions in the year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, the highest since JSA was introduced in 1996. It compares with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government. (Figure 1)

In the year to 30 September 2013, JSA claimants were sanctioned at the rate of 5.11% per month, and in the 3 months to 30 September 2013 at the rate of 6.00% per month. These are the highest rates recorded since the start of JSA in 1996. (Figure 2)

Over the whole period of the Coalition, JSA sanctions have run at 4.42% of JSA claimants per month. This compares with approximately 2.46% during the Labour government from May 1997 to April 2010. (Note: I have previously given a figure of 2.60% for the monthly rate of sanctions under the Labour government but this was from April 2000 to April 2010. The new figure is fairer.)

In the period 22 Oct 2012 to 30 Sept 2013 (a period of 49 weeks), 527,574 individuals received a sanction. The highest published number for any 52 week period was 528,700 in the financial year 2010/11 (FoI request 2012-5156, 14th January 2013). This indicates that the number of individuals sanctioned within any 12-month period will also have reached its highest level since the beginning of JSA.

In the year to 30 September 2013 there were 22,840 sanctions imposed on ESA claimants in the Work Related Activity Group. This is the highest for any 12-month period since sanctions were introduced for ESA WRAG claimants in October 2008.

The rate of sanctions for ESA WRAG claimants is much lower than for JSA claimants but is rising and has almost reached 0.5% per month (Figure 3).

  • Appeals: There has been a sensational increase in the success rate of claimants at Tribunal– but only one in 50 claimants appeals
  • More JSA claimants given three-year sanctions
  • Failure to participate in training/employment schemes and not ‘actively seeking work’ are now the main reasons for JSA sanctions

Reasons for ESA sanctions

  • The Work Programme: Twice as many sanctions as job outcomes
  • Cancelled referrals from Work Programme contractors indicate defective paperwork on a big scale

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