Employment and support allowance sanctions have risen month on month throughout 2016, from 900 in January to 1,749 in June, the latest figures from the DWP reveal.
The DWP’s statistical release shows that ESA sanctions for this year are climbing very rapidly, almost doubling since the start of the year:
The vast majority of sanction decisions are made because of alleged failure to participate in work-related activity. In June 2016 just 168 sanctions were applied due to failure to attend a mandatory interview, the other 1,582 were applied for failure to participate.
Although still well below their high point of 3,695 in March 2014, the rate of increase is deeply worrying.
On the positive side the figures also show that sanctions decisions can be challenged successfully.
Between 3 December 2012 and 30 June 2016:
- At review stage 26,970 sanctions decisions were overturned by claimants, whilst 32,352 were upheld. A success rate for claimants of 46%.
- At mandatory reconsideration stage 1,435 sanctions decisions were overturned by claimants, whilst 999 were upheld. A success rate for claimants of 59%.
- At appeal stage 197 sanctions decisions were overturned by claimants, whilst 395 were upheld. A success rate for claimants of 33%.
The Public Accounts Committee is currently carrying out an inquiry into benefits sanctions. The closing date for submissions to the inquiry is 6 December 2016