Benefit Sanctions briefing: DWP’s Mandatory Reconsiderations have “effectively destroyed” independent Tribunals

Benefit Sanctions Briefing – 18 February 2015: The DWP’s latest release updates the sanctions statistics to the end of September 2014. For the first time it includes the results of mandatory reconsiderations.

Download briefing – view online

Highlight:  “The Mandatory Reconsideration system, introduced on 28 October 2013, has fundamentally changed the whole appeal process, introducing additional steps and a new Jobcentre Plus structure. MR has cut the proportion of JSA sanctions which are challenged by claimants from about one third (33%) to about 20-25%. ESA sanction challenges have returned to below their pre-MR level, at about 45%. The independent element in the system offered by Tribunals has been effectively destroyed, completely in the case of ESA and almost completely for JSA, where only 0.14% of sanction decisions are now being taken to a Tribunal. MR has had no overall impact on the proportion of JSA sanctions overturned, which remains at about 13%. But the proportion of ESA sanctions overturned has fallen from about 35% to about 20%. The most disturbing possibility is that ESA claimants’ medical conditions are rendering them unable to cope effectively with the phone calls made to them by DWP officials at home during the MR process.” [emphasis added]

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



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


DWP Hardship Payment forms/guidance: JSA/ESA and Universal Credit (recoverable loan)

DWP FOI disclosure of forms and guidance: FOI request 7 August 2014, disclosures 5 September 2014.

Download hardship application forms
JSA/ESA  (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Universal Credit (pdf) – view pdf online (html)

Leaflet: What is a [JSA] hardship payment? Download pdf – view pdf online (html) – source
DWP JSA Hardship Award Guidance Queries and Help: Download (pdf) – view pdf online (html)
Decision Makers Guide:Chapter 35 – Hardship  – Download (pdf) – view pdf online – source

Benefit Sanction Appeal Tips (JSA & ESA)

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29 page briefing on DWP JSA and ESA sanctions stats of 13 Aug 14

Download original (.docx) – View online

Briefing extracts:It was always likely that the Coalition’s intensification of JSA and ESA sanctions would lead to fatalities
Up to 31 March 2014 there had been 280,140 JSA Work Programme job outcomes and 503,220 JSA Work Programme sanctions
The annual number of JSA/ESA sanctions has almost doubled under the Coalitionvia @boycottworkfare

Petition: Hold an inquiry into benefit sanctions that killed my brother

Briefing by Dr David Webster Honorary Senior Research Fellow Urban Studies School of Social and Political Sciences University of Glasgow Email: