Sanctions against Jobseekers and the ill in Sharp Rise.
Benefits and Work published this note on the 17th of February.
The number of employment and support allowance (ESA) sanctions increased by almost a third in the last two months for which figures are available, statistics published by the DWP today show.
The ESA and JSA sanctions statistical release shows that ESA sanctions in 2015 increased as follows:
The last time sanctions were as high was in April 2015.
ESA sanctions reached their highest point in March 2014, when 3,695 sanctions were handed out.
Meanwhile JSA sanctions have fallen dramatically from a high in October 2013 of 90,974 to 21,973 in September 2015.
No explanations for the changes in either ESA or JSA sanctions rates have been offered by the DWP.
Vox Political publishes today:
The proportion of sanctions against people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) leapt up by around 19 per cent between July and September 2015, researchers from Glasgow University have found.
Perhaps more damningly, sick claimants on ESA are more likely to be sanctioned repeatedly than JSA claimants.
These rises should be set in the context of a continuing decline in monthly sanction rates, due to a fall in the number of claimants. JSA and Universal Credit claims fell by 12,980, while the number of ESA claimants exposed to sanctions – those in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG) – has fallen as an increasing proportion of claimants are being put into the Support Group rather than the WRAG.
“The present government has pushed up the proportion of referrals which result in an actual sanction by about 19 percentage points,” wrote Dr David Webster, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow.
“Further investigation has revealed that this is due to an astonishing rise in the proportion of referrals for ‘not actively seeking employment’ (ASE) [“which actually means not seeking work in the way instructed by Job Centre Plus”] which result in a sanction, to 96 per cent, compared to about 50 per cent for all other sanctions.
“It appears that the DWP’s decision makers are now doing little more than rubber-stamping ASE sanction referrals. [bolding mine]
“The impact on claimants is compounded by the fact that the proportion of ASE sanctions overturned is currently a tiny six per cent, compared to about 17 per cent for all other sanctions.
“This appears to be part of the same campaign to put pressure on unemployed people as the ‘claimant commitment’, which is compared by Frank Field in a new publication (reported in the Briefing) to a ‘prison manual’.”
Dr Webster’s briefing, The DWP’s JSA/ESA Sanctions Statistics Release, 17 February 2016, states that “there has been a sustained fall since November 2013 in the monthly rate of JSA sanctions before and after challenges as a percentage of claimants, to 4.28 per cent and 3.67 per cent respectively in the year to September 2015.
The rest of the story here.