Tag: jsa


In the year to 31 March 2015 there were 587,000 JSA sanctions before challenges and 506,502 after. They have fallen by about 44% from their peaks, the main reason being a fall of 37% in the average number of JSA claimants. There is also a downward trend in JSA sanctions as a percentage of JSA claimants, from peaks of 6.77% per month before challenges and 5.83% after in the year to March 2014, to 5.49% and 4.73% respectively in the year to March 2015, although rates have levelled off in the latest quarter. Sanction rates are still 84% and 70% above those inherited from the previous Labour government. These figures do not include jobseeker sanctions under Universal Credit, which probably reached some 1,700 per month by March 2015. No update is available on the proportion of JSA claimants sanctioned, which was about one quarter in the five years to March 2014.

ESA sanctions have also fallen, to 43,300 before challenges and 33,353 after in the year to March 2015. This partly reflects the decline in the ‘Work Related Activity Group’, but as a percentage of claimants, sanctions before challenges have also begun to decline slightly, and after challenges have stabilised. In the year to March 2015 the monthly rate was 0.71% before challenges and 0.55% after.

New data show that sanctioned ESA claimants are almost as likely to be sanctioned repeatedly as are sanctioned JSA claimants. Under the new regime since 2012, the former received an average of 1.69 sanctions each after challenges, and the latter 1.81.

A clarification by DWP has revealed that while all ‘reserved’ decisions that become actual sanctions are recorded as adverse decisions, the published statistics are giving us no idea at all of the actual numbers of reserved decisions or of the proportion which end up becoming actual sanctions. Halving of the proportion of ‘reserved’ within total decisions under the Coalition may reflect stricter enforcement when people make renewed claims.

Under the ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ regime, the proportion of JSA sanctions overturned after challenge remains at about 13%, but for those claimants who actually make a challenge it has risen to two-thirds. For ESA claimants, the proportion of sanctions overturned after challenge has fallen from about 35% to under 20%, and for those who actually make a challenge it has fallen from 60% to 40%.

As a result of complaints by Jonathan Portes of NIESR and myself, the UK Statistics Authority on 5 August recommended changes in the content and presentation of the sanctions statistics.

At the end of this briefing there are notes on this and other recent developments in relation to sanctions, and comments on reports from the OECD and Resolution Foundation. An Appendix reproduces a statement given by a recent claimant to her Jobcentre when she gave up claiming JSA despite still being unemployed. It illustrates many defects of the current JSA regime.

Read the full report here: 15-08 Sanctions Stats Briefing – D.Webster Aug 2015

‘Unintended’ housing benefit cuts hit tenants

17/01/2014 | By Paul Hebden

Councils are cutting off housing benefit payments to tenants who are entitled to receive them, as an unintended consequence of sanctions applied to other benefits.


Jobseeker’s allowance and employment support allowance claimants can have sanctions applied to their claims if they miss appointments or fail to do enough to find work. But many are also having their housing benefit cut, because they are unaware that they need to tell councils their financial circumstances have changed. Local authorities are stopping claims as a result.


Charities warn they are dealing with a rising number of housing benefit problems as the number of JSA and ESA sanctions soar – because many recipients don’t realise the reductions could affect their claim.


The number of sanctions against benefit claimants deemed not to be doing enough to find work increased to 860,000 in the year to June 2013, the highest for any 12-month period since statistics began to be recorded in their present form.


Housing associations have also reported anecdotal evidence of tenants falling into rent arrears as a consequence of housing benefit being cut off the back of another sanction.

Homelessness charities, including umbrella body Homeless Link and Crisis, have raised the problem with the Department for Work and Pensions. They are feeding into a review of the way sanctions are communicated, being carried out for the DWP by Matthew Oakley, a former economist at think tank Policy Exchange.


Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis, said: ‘People are not being advised that their housing benefit will be affected and that they may need to re-apply for it. Often they only realise there’s a problem when they are in arrears or facing eviction.

‘There needs to be clear communication between the different [council] benefit departments to prevent people’s housing benefit being affected by sanctions [applied elsewhere].’

In its evidence to the Oakley review, Homeless Link called on the DWP to ensure the potential impact of a sanction on a claimant’s housing benefit is explained – and how a claimant can avoid this happening.

A spokesperson for Circle Housing Group confirmed it was starting to hear ‘anecdotal’ evidence of problems as a result of sanctions being robustly applied.

A second association, that did not wish to be identified, confirmed it had seen similar problems.


A DWP spokesperson said that sanctions should not affect claimants’ housing benefit.


Benefit sanctions


860,000 sanctions issued by the Department for Work and Pensions in the year to June 2013


4.35% proportion of jobseeker’s allowance claimants sanctioned per month

2.60% equivalent proportion of sanctions under Labour between 2000 and 2010

Source: Department for Work and Pensions

Read an article about this issue in Inside Housing.