By Daniel Hunter
As claimants fulfil their commitments to look for work and take up the offer of employment support, the number of benefit sanctions has gone down.
New statistics show 606,000 sanctions were given to claimants on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) in the past year — a drop of around 300,000 compared with the previous year.
Sanctions are a necessary part of the benefits system, with more than 70% of claimants saying they are more likely to follow the rules if they know they risk having their benefits stopped.
Employment Minister, Priti Patel said:
Our welfare reforms are transforming the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities and giving people the skills and opportunities to get on in life.
We offer tailored employment support to jobseekers, and these figures show that more people are taking up that support and moving into work with the security of a regular wage.
Sanctions are only used as a last resort in a small percentage of cases, with over 94% of JSA claimants and 99% of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants not being sanctioned. If someone disagrees with a sanction, they can ask for a reconsideration or appeal to an independent tribunal.
The figures give the number of sanctions up to December 2014. They show that:
there has been a significant fall in the number of JSA sanctions compared with the previous year — between January 2014 and December 2014, there were 606,000 sanctions, compared to approximately 900,000 in the same period the previous year
in the year to December 2014, the most common reason for a JSA sanction (32%) was failing to actively look for work
27% of sanctions were for failing to participate in employment programmes designed to help people back to work, including the Work Programme
24% of sanctions were because the claimant did not have a good reason for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre
The Claimant Commitment was introduced in Jobcentres in October 2013. It is tailored to the person’s individual circumstances and clearly sets out what their responsibilities are while job hunting. Jobseekers are helped by their work coach to create a personal work plan which clearly sets out achievable goals and also explains the risks they face if they don’t fulfil them.