JSA sanctions fall whilst sanctions directed at those on ESA have risen by 63 per cent

19 May 2015

Recently released government data has shown that the number of sanctions directed at people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) fell by nearly a third in 2014 to 605, 595. This has been compared with the rising number of claimants on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) who were threatened with a stop to their benefits between 2013 and 2014.

The BBC has suggested that the fall in JSA sanctions is due to more claimants finding work. However, as previous analysis by Inclusion and Dr David Webster has identified, increasing numbers of people drop their JSA claims after they have been sanctioned. Furthermore, the overall number of unemployed people not claiming JSA has risen to 56.6 per cent (see Inclusion’s latest Labour Market Live).

Amongst unemployed young people, the proportion not claiming JSA is currently 76 per cent, and has risen by 20 percentage points since October 2012. Inclusion suggests that this disparity could be as a result of the controversial sanctions regime.

Furthermore, despite falling unemployment, the number of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance continues to rise. This perhaps also contributes to the latest sanctions figures, which have caused widespread concern amongst charities working with vulnerable groups who rely on sickness benefits such as ESA.
The sanctions inquiry which concluded earlier this year recommended a ‘Review (of) Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctioning within the Work Programme’. It also called for a full independent review of sanctioning to ‘be established and report as soon as is practicable in the next Parliament’.