Nearly one in five (18.4%) jobseekers were affected by punitive benefit sanctions in 2013-14, new analysis suggests.
Analysis of official Government figures by Dr David Webster, a researcher from the University of Glasgow, shows that 568,430 of the 3,097,630 individuals who claimed Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) during 2013/14 were sanctioned – with some seeing their benefits stopped more than once.
Furthermore, 22.3% of the total 8,232,560 individuals who claimed JSA between 2009/10 to 2013/14 (inclusive) have seen their benefits removed. Equivalent to 1,833,035 people.
The findings draw into question claims from DWP ministers, who insist only a “tiny number” of people are sanctioned and that they are only ever used as a “last resort”.
Statistically, the percentage of JSA claimants sanctioned each month stands at an average 6.5%.
However, according to the analysis, this headline statistic fails to account for the cumulative effect of benefit sanctions, which can last for a few weeks or as long as three years.
“If 5-6% of claimants are being sanctioned every month, the proportion will grow as time goes on”, says Dr Webster.
His analysis also reveals that 30.9% of individual JSA claimants sanctioned in the year to June 2014 were hammered more than once, and 12.5% three times or more.
It’s bad news for sick and disabled people too. Dr Webster writes: “Over the six years of the ESA sanctions regime from October 2008 to September 2014, 21.0% out of a total of 85,292 sanctioned claimants received more than one sanction, and 7.6% three or more”.
To add insult to injury, no pun intended, the proportion of ESA sanctions overturned at appeal has fallen from around 35% to just 20% – since the introduction of ‘mandatory reconsideration’ into the appeals process.
Dr Webster says there is a “disturbing possibility” that vulnerable sick and disabled people are “unable to cope” with the new appeals process.
Claimants who disagree with a decision on benefit entitlement are now required to ask the DWP to ‘reconsider’, before they can appeal to an independent social security tribunal.
The proportion of JSA sanctions challenged by claimants has also fallen from 33% to around 20-25%.
Dr Webster’s analysis also reinforces views stressed by other experts: the Government’s controversial Work Programme “continues to deliver far more JSA sanctions than JSA job outcomes”, he says.
He added: “Up to 30 September 2014 there had been 575,399 JSA Work Programme sanctions and 345,640 JSA Work Programme job outcomes”.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 04 Mar 2015
The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) being subjected to benefit sanctions is creeping up, with nearly one in five being penalised last year.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 3,097,630 JSA claims were made in 2013-14 and 568,430 individuals were subject to a sanction, a total of 18%. In 2012-13, 16% of claims were subjected to sanctions and 15% in 2010-11. They are imposed on people who fail to keep appointments, reject jobs or walk out of jobs without good reason.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said:
“The huge rise in sanctions since 2010 shows the government’s system is in chaos. The number has doubled since 2009 to a level where one in five of all JSA claimants receive a sanction. This will lead to further concerns that unofficial targets imposed on jobcentres by the Department for Work and Pensions are forcing up the number of people who have their benefits withdrawn.
“Under a Labour government, there will be no targets for sanctions and the system will focused on helping people into work, not simply finding reasons to kick jobseekers off benefits.”
> So under a Labour government there will be no targets for sanctions. That’s not quite the same as saying there will not be a vicious sanctions regime…there always were people in the system who’d impose sanctions just because they could. They will presumably keep right on doing so.
The figures also show that 372,461 claimants were subject to one adverse decision, 99,621 to two and 35,170 to three between 1 July 2013 and 30 June 2014.
The DWP stressed the figures were derived from unpublished information that had not been quality assured to Official Statistics publication standards, and should therefore be treated with caution.
David Webster, an honorary senior research fellow at Glasgow University, said:
“The DWP is still regularly claiming that it is only a ‘tiny minority’ of claimants who are sanctioned – most recently by Esther McVey last week – but this suggests it is not a tiny minority.”
The employment minister, Esther McVey, said:
“All the international evidence suggests that sanctions do have a positive impact on people getting into work, and there are two parts of that: as a deterrent, it has a positive impact on moving people into work and there is further research that, should somebody have been sanctioned, it helps them into work afterwards.”
> Actually, all it seems to prove is that sanctions reduce the unemployment figures – their real aim. And that’s very much not the same as people vanishing from the figures because they’ve found work.
The DWP pointed to OECD research on northern member states which suggested that having a credible benefit reduction leads to increased work searches and a subsequent increase of flow into employment of up to 50%.
Source – The Guardian, 13 Feb 2015