Briefing on latest JSA/ESA benefit sanctions statistics – ‘3 million+ get average of 2.04 sanctions each’

Download full briefing [.docx] – view online.

Key points are:

  • The total number of JSA sanctions has started to fall back due to the continuing fall in claimant unemployment
  • As a proportion of claimants, JSA sanctions have stabilised at the unprecedently high levels of 7% before reconsiderations and appeals, and 6% after
  • ESA sanctions have continued their rapid rise, both in numbers and as a proportion of claimants
  • The DWP has still not published any statistics on Mandatory Reconsiderations, introduced on 28 October 2013. However, Mandatory Reconsideration appears to have caused an almost total collapse in appeals to Tribunals. Only 23 JSA or ESA sanction Tribunal appeal decisions are recorded for all of April-June 2014, compared with a usual figure of at least 1,000 per month
  • Non-reporting of Mandatory Reconsiderations has had the incidental effect of revealing lengthy delays in the former reconsideration system. Over 25,000 claimants receiving reconsideration decisions in May and June 2014 had waited at least 6 months.
  • Not ‘actively seeking work’ remains the most common reason for sanction, followed by failure to participate in a training/employment scheme and missing an interview. The only reason to have increased is voluntarily leaving a job or losing it through misconduct. This always occurs during an economic recovery. Increased job mobility is simply a return to normal labour market behaviour.
  • The Work Programme continues to deliver more sanctions than job outcomes.


By Dr David Webster
Honorary Senior Research Fellow
Urban Studies
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Glasgow