This article was written by Patrick Wintour, political editor, for The Guardian on Monday 8th December 2014
More than 900,000 jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) claimants have been subject to a benefit sanction decision in the last year, the Department of Work and Pensions said on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The figures cover April 2013 and March 2014, the latest date for which statistics are available. The figures show that 918,600 JSA claimants have been subject to penalties in response to a failure to comply with DWP rules.
In a separate development, a cross-party report on food banks published on Monday found benefit sanctions to be the single biggest reason for use of food banks and made a range of recommendations for the reform of the way the sanctions are administered. These included the use of yellow cards so that claimants had more warning that they were in danger of losing benefit.
A spokesperson for No 10 said the government was willing to look at speeding up the payment of benefits, but saw no need to undertake further reform of sanction decisions. He said it had already undertaken one review of the communication and administration of sanctions. He pointed out that 93% of benefits were now paid on time – an increase of 7% since 2010.
The DWP found that 516,472 JSA claimants aged under 30 had experienced a sanction in the year. The DWP stressed the figures were for internal management purposes and should not be regarded as official statistics.
> What does that mean ? Either people have been sanctioned or they haven’t. That almost sounds like an admission that the DWP official figures and the true figures are different. Who’d have guessed ?
In its response to the request for the data, the DWP wrote:
“Claimants should do everything they can to find work if they are able in return for benefits, and more than 70% say they are more likely to follow the rules if they know they risk having their benefits stopped if they do not. Benefit sanctions are only used as a last resort and the overwhelming majority of claimants do not receive a sanction.”
> So 900,000 people have received sanctions, but the overwhelming majority of claimants do not receive a sanction.
If 900,000 is such a small minority, how many people are on benefits altogether ? Do they include pensioners in this (who aren’t going to get sanctioned anyway) ? But the article cites 900,000 of JSA claimants. As ever, nothing adds up…
Source – Welfare Weekly, 08 Dec 2014