500,000 sanctioned JSA claimants have disappeared

MP Debbie Abrahams has revealed that Oxford academics will report next month on what has happened to half a million jobseekers allowance (JSA) claimants who were sanctioned and subsequently disappeared from official employment statistics.

The Oxford University study led by Professor David Stuckler and Dr. Rachel Loopstra, is in the process of analysing what has happened to the 4.5 million people who have been sanctioned under the Coalition government’s sanctioning regime.

Their research will be published in full later this month for full peer review. According to Abrahams:

“Since the government’s regulations came into effect in October 2012 about half of all sanction decisions have led to people on JSA having their social security payments cut for a least 4 weeks, affecting over 2 million people.

“Of those sanctioned, one in four leave JSA, and their preliminary statistical analysis is revealing that most of those who leave do so for reasons other than employment.”

The research suggests more than 500,000 Job Seekers Allowance claimants have ‘disappeared’ since the sanctions regime was toughened in October 2012.

This could mean the claimant count – one of the ways of measuring unemployment – is actually 20,000 to 30,000 higher each month than government figures.

This suggests that, in August 2014, the claimant count could have hit one million instead of being at 970,000.

Abrahams said:

“Sanctions are being applied unfairly to job-seekers as well as the sick and disabled. And we shouldn’t forget that most people on social security are actually in work but are struggling to make ends meet.

“I’ve always maintained that the real reason the government is doing this is to get them off the JSA claimant figures, so it looks like there are fewer people who are unemployed.

It directly contradicts the government’s current claims about these people coming off JSA because they’ve gone into work.

“Iain Duncan Smith will try and say these statistics are unreliable but the fact is these are the DWP’s own statistics so they can’t wriggle out of it using that excuse!”

Stuckler and Loopstra, who have analysed data from 375 local authority areas have said they are ‘shocked’ by what they have found so far.

Talking about his research findings Professor Stuckler said: “The data clearly show that many people are not leaving JSA for work but appear to be being pushed off in unprecedented numbers in association with sanctions.

> Well, it’s nice that academics and politicians are finally catching up with what the rest of us already knew… question now is, what are they going to do with their new-found knowledge ?

Source – Benefits & Work,  07 Nov 2014



  1. Chris

    The over 60s are not listed in government unemployment statistics.
    And someone 60 and disabled / chronic sick can equally be benefit sanctioned as someone in a young family with a new baby.

    I never applied for Jobseekers as knew could not comply as both chronic sick and disabled. Tried for 2 years to get Disability Living Allowance (now gone) and Employment and Support Allowance (support component) to no avail. I cannot work, turned 60, no state pension payout this year joining the 530,000 women born from 1953 who lost the payout, and in 6 years time the state pension will be massively reduced or lost altogether for life.

    Access is not universal to food vouchers to people not on benefit / benefit sanctioned, so no access to food banks.

    Without benefit nor state pension cannot receive Winter Fuel Allowance.

    As the state pension payout is payable even if remain in work and half of the over 50s are within the working poor or unemployed, where the biggest reason not in work is due to being disabled / chronic sick, then maybe some of the reason is that we may have died from early death or suicide.

    Stress can kill even the young fit and able bodied. Heart attack during the gruelling 45 minute interrogation for assessment for benefit, fit for work, means being benefit sanctioned and then rung in a hospital bed awaiting life sustaining surgery, when such stress can kill as doctors know.

    The poorest 20 per cent have had far more inflation in food prices and energy bills than the richest 20 per cent.

    Also bearing in mind that the disabled / chronic sick of all ages are liable for the Bedroom Tax.

    And we have lost 100 per cent council tax benefit and housing benefit cut (mostly going to the landlords of the working poor).

    Not for nothing has the United Nations postponed investigating UK’s welfare reform until after the 2015 general election.

    The cruel benefits regime and the loss of state pension payout to women (which means 7 years lost state pension payout to a couple, as the husband has lost 1 year’s payout – women born from 1953 and men born from 1951), seems only solved by The Greens whose 2015 manifesto offers:

    – Citizen Income, automatic as a citizen, non-withdrawable, to the amount of the basic tax allowance
    supplement to people living alone and to the disabled

    – After CI, a Bettered State Pension to the same amount, with same supplements
    that gives the full state pension to all citizens, leaving no citizen in forever penniless old age as does the flat rate pension, that is not more but far far less and nil state pension altogether

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