Record sanctions for benefits claimants

The total number of sanctions imposed on benefit claimants in the year to September 2013 was 897,690 – the highest figure for any 12-month period since jobseeker's allowance was introduced in 1996 – according to figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions.

The figures show the number of sanctions imposed under the tougher new regime introduced by the coalition government in October 2012. They cover jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA).

Key points

  • Between November 2012 (the first full month of the new regime) and September 2013, there were 789,000 sanctions imposed. This was nearly 12 per cent more than the 705,000 total imposed between November 2011 and September 2012.
  • The number of 'adverse decisions' against JSA claimants in the full year to 30 September 2013 was 874,850, compared with 500,000 in the year to 30 April 2010, the last month of the previous Labour government – a rise of around 75 per cent.
  • The most common reason for a JSA sanction (36 per cent) was a failure on the part of the jobseeker to actively look for work. 30 per cent were sanctioned because they failed to participate in employment programmes (including the Work Programme). 19 per cent were sanctioned because they did not have a good reason for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre.
  • Sanctions imposed on claimants of ESA in the work-related activity group were the highest for any 12-month period since they were introduced for such claimants in October 2008.

The large increase in the number of sanctions come before the coalition government introduces its even tougher 'claimant commitment' that will require claimants to do more to prove they are actively seeking work.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: 'As part of the government's long-term economic plan, we are ending the something for nothing culture and supporting those who want to work hard and play by the rules'.

SourceJobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance Sanctions: decisions made to September 2013, Department for Work and Pensions
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Publication date: 
Feb 19 2014