New sanctions figures

Below is the summary of a briefing on sanctions figures from Dr David Webster, University of Glasgow. This briefing  highlights high levels of Universal Credit sanctions with more people affected and with each person having more sanctions.





“In the May 2017 statistical release, DWP has published statistics on Universal Credit (UC) sanctions for the first time, and it has put lone parent Income Support (LP-IS) sanctions on to the same basis as other sanctions.


In 2016 there were approximately 339,000 JSA or UC sanctions on unemployed people before challenges, of which 157,000 were JSA and 182,000 UC. After challenges, there were 127,409 JSA and 176,855 UC sanctions, a total of 304,264. Also after challenges, 83,898 JSA claimants were sanctioned, and 104,906 UC claimants, making a total of 188,804 sanctioned individuals.


The average monthly rate of sanctions under UC over the 17 months for which data are published was very high at 7.1% of claimants before challenge, compared with only 2.6% for JSA. This makes the overall monthly rate for unemployed claimants 3.75%, substantially higher than suggested by previously published DWP statistics. Reasons for the higher UC rate include the relative youth of UC claimants and the fact that under UC, more of those who miss interviews are sanctioned rather than have their cases closed.


In 2016, the mean number of sanctions per sanctioned individual was 1.69 for UC, 1.52 for JSA and 1.57 for ESA, indicating that under UC sanctions are more concentrated on a minority of individuals.


Reasons for UC sanctions are dominated by missed interviews, accounting for 70.1% of UC sanctions in 2016. This is far more than for JSA (21.2%). Work search penalties are significant at 17.2%, compared to 21.9% for JSA. Among JSA sanctions, failure to participate in the Work Programme has increased substantially in relative importance since 2013, from 29.6% to 47.4%, while work search has declined.


The ESA monthly sanction rate before challenges is stable or slightly rising at about 0.33% per month. The monthly rate of lone parent IS sanctions after challenges appears to have declined over the past year. For the quarter ended December 2016 it was 0.35%, compared to 0.52% for lone parents on JSA. Almost all the LP-IS sanctions (96%) were for missing an interview.


Rates of challenge are much lower for UC and LP-IS sanctions than for JSA or ESA. In the quarter ended December 2016 only just over 1% of LP-IS sanctions were challenged, while in the 17 months for which UC data are available, an average of only 14.5% of UC sanctions were challenged. These rates for UC and LP-IS compare with fairly stable figures of around 25% for JSA and 60% for ESA.


There is less difference in success rates for challenges. For JSA they are almost 80% and LP-IS about 70%, with ESA around 45% and UC the lowest at around 31%. Overall overturn rates (the proportion of sanctions rescinded after challenge) for JSA and ESA have converged at about 20% while for UC the rate is under 5% and for LP-IS under 1%.


The UK Statistics Authority is pursuing DWP on the question of improvements to the sanctions statistics. There is other news on sanctions developments at the end of the Briefing.”

The full report is available here.


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