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Amber Rudd, work and pensions secretary, has announced this month that 3 year sanctions are to end and the maximum length of a sanction will be 6 months. The changes will be introduced by the end of this year.

Since 2012 over 32,000 thousand claimants have been hit by sanctions lasting longer than six months.

Universal credit and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants can be given a 3 year sanction for failing on three occasions to comply with a work-related requirement.

Now, however, Rudd has admitted that 3 year sanctions don’t wrk:

“Three-year sanctions are rarely used, but I believe that they are counter-productive and ultimately undermine our goal of supporting people into work.”

Sanctions of up to six months will still remain, however.

“I have reviewed my Department’s internal data, which shows that a six-month sanction already provides a significant incentive for claimants to engage with the labour market regime. I agree with the Work and Pensions Select Committee that a three-year sanction is unnecessarily long and I feel that the additional incentive provided by a three-year sanction can be outweighed by the unintended impacts to the claimant due to the additional duration. For these reasons, I have now decided to remove three year sanctions and reduce the maximum sanction length to six months by the end of the year.”

Rudd also hinted that there may be further changes to the sanctions regime in the future.

“It is important that sanctions remain proportionate to ensure they promote the best outcomes. For this reason, the Department is currently carrying out a further evaluation into the effectiveness of UC sanctions at supporting claimants to search for work. I will consider what other improvements can be made following this and inform the House in due course.”

You can read Rudd’s full statement on sanctions here.

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