Almost half of all the employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who have had their benefit sanctioned have a mental health condition, raising doubts about the safeguards for claimants that should be built in to the system.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published official statistics on ESA sanctions that have been applied to claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of ESA.

For the period 1 December 2010 to 30 November 2011 there were 10,130 sanctions applied to ESA claimants in the WRAG, and some of these included claimants who were sanctioned more than once. The average sanction was applied for six weeks.

For failure to attend a work-focused interview or to undertake work-related activity without good cause, 36% of claimants had the work-related activity component of their benefit reduced by 50%, and 64% had a 100% reduction applied to the work-related activity component of their ESA.

The sanctions applied by the DWP have been broken down at Annexe A, p 13 of the report by the main disabling condition, and show that almost half of the sanctions applied were imposed on claimants with mental health problems and behavioural disorders.

Of the 10,130 sanctions applied, 4,490 were applied to claimants with mental health and behavioural problems. It would be illuminating to have a similar breakdown for claimants who had sanctions imposed on them more than once, but these statistics are not available in the report.

The report “​ESA Sanctions Official Statistics February 2012”​ is available on the DWP website.


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