The sanctions regime for employment and support allowance (ESA) has been almost completely abandoned by the DWP, but sanctions for universal credit remain high the latest government figures reveal.
For ESA, sanction rates were at their highest in April 2014 when 5,565 claimants were sanctioned, representing 1.04% of ESA claimants.
Since then numbers have steadily dropped.
In the latest month for which figures are available, June 2019, there were just 122 sanctions, representing 0.04% of ESA claimants.
For JSA, sanctions were at their highest in October 2013 with 21,442 sanctions representing 1.78% of claimants.
In June 2019 there were only 95 sanctions, representing 0.05% of JSA claimants.
UC sanctions have also fallen over time.
In March 2017 33,217 claimants had a sanction representing a staggering 9.3% of claimants.
That percentage has fallen considerably since then.
In November 2019 the percentage of UC claimants with a sanction had fallen to 2.38%,. But the number of sanctions is now higher at 38,181 due to the much higher take-up of UC.
The figures suggest that the years of pressure over sanctions have had an effect on the DWP’s behaviour.
But rather than honestly admit that they were always a dreadful, counterproductive concept the DWP have just gradually and surreptitiously reduced their use.
The fact that they remain so high in relation to UC, even if lower than at their height, suggests that it is too soon to stop campaigning against sanctions. This is particularly the case as ESA claimants will, over the coming years, face forced migration to UC and its more aggressive sanctions regime.