The latest statistics released by the DWP this month show that 541,000 universal credit (UC) claimants were sanctioned in the year to January 2023. The overwhelming majority of these, 530,000, were sanctioned for failing to attend or failing to participate in a mandatory interview.

The figures represent a very small fall from the peak sanction rate, but the number of claimants sanctioned is still more than double what it was pre-pandemic.

In January 2020 18,462 claimants were sanctioned.

In January 2023, the figure was 44,888.

The number of sanctions hovered around the 45,000 mark for all of 2022, with the exception of December when it fell to 34,863 and March, when a record 58,525 claimants were sanctioned

With the DWP planning to give work coaches the power to decide who is capable of work, these figures are a reminder of the vast power such unqualified staff will wield.

First deciding whether a claimant is able to take part in work-related activities and then having the power to recommend a sanction if the claimant fails to attend a meeting or does not participate as fully as the work coach thinks is appropriate.

Claimants can try to show good cause for not attending a meeting or not being able to participate in it properly, including issues with their health.

But if the work coach is sceptical about the effects of their health condition in the first place , then the likelihood of them recommending to a decision maker that no sanction should be applied seems slim.

A sanction decision can be appealed, and the majority of appeals are successful, but the process is a long one and the sanction is likely to have had severely damaging effects by the time any hearing takes place.

You can read the full sanctions statistics here.

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    Theresa567 · 8 months ago
    I couldn’t turn up due to I’ll health, when I was due to sign on for jobseekers 
    I had rang 3 times at different days to tell why I could not turn up, . As i rule I heard them saying it’s down to me! Jobseekers claim was closed? I made a complaint saying I would appeal! I was told by job line manager that my complaint would be Not over turned!!! As she was the person it would go too.. and she blankly told me not too…… i was not ware that, this how they’ do this 
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    Lozviz · 9 months ago
    Yet soon we will have work coaches deciding who is fit to do what. Everyone will be "fit" in their book and the disabled who struggle to even attend their own medical appointments will be getting sanctioned because they can't manage to do what the work coach "thinks" they can. 
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    Kat Cohen · 9 months ago
    Michael everything you say is true but sadly the DWP have been acting illegally for years virtually unchallenged. It's truly scary. Decisions vary from work coach to work coach there doesn't even seem to be a rule book!!
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      Lozviz · 9 months ago
      @Kat Cohen Yes they have. Some will follow the rules, others don't. I had arrangements for telephone only with a work coach (while waiting on support group assessment - which I ended up qualifying for) because my GP had written I am unfit to travel. Blow me, next Monday morning I am supposed to be four miles away on the work programme at 9 am and that's with children who don't actually get into school till 8.50. It took my MP to sort that. Years later my son was knocked down by a car and so unfit to travel or even sleep due to it setting off reactive scoliosis and the pain that involves - so they kept giving him 9am appointments in person, sanctioning him because he couldn't attend where then the lack of money made it impossible for him to attend medical appointments he needed to stop deterioration (this resulted in a strongly worded letter to the JC manager threatening to involve the MP which sorted that). They ought to stop picking on those that medicine can't make better and sort the NHS so those that can may be helped. That's how to get those that can back to work, it's pointless bothering the incurable - not to mention cruel.
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    Judy Whittington · 9 months ago
    Hi .I don't understand if you definitely cannot work due to ill health and have long term illness recommendations of proof from doctors etc why do I still not get full pip and not standard due to Ankylosing spondylitis ?????
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Lozviz · 9 months ago
      @Judy Whittington Because it is the effects that your condition has on the daily living and mobility that determines whether you qualify. Just proof of having a condition isn't enough on it's own. 
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      FieldL2015 · 9 months ago
      @Judy Whittington I also suffer with Ankylosing spondylitis, I was diagnosed in 2015. Suffering with it since 2013(symptoms) I’m on universal credit Lcwra and pip. After all stuff I’ve read I’m worried too. Sooner the tories are out the better they don’t give a rats backside. 
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    Molby · 9 months ago
    This is going to push many including myself over the edge, not just metaphorically but literally if decisions of mental and physical health is left to the whim of unqualified work coaches who have an agenda to get as many people, regardless, off benefits.
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    Paul · 9 months ago
    I always attend my DWP meeting.At times I have felt unwell.But I always attend.I have always treated the meeting as business.If I fail to attend I will be sanctioned. I cannot afford to lose money.The average sanction is £600.That is an awful lot of money for me.
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    Michael · 9 months ago
    What is being proposed is both illegal and dangerous. Who is a work coach, who is not clinically-trained, to say whether a person is fit for work or not? Will they conduct a risk assessment, as required by the Management of Health and Safety Regs 1999? I doubt it. Will they comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (as amended)? It would appear the Tories intend to allow work coaches to raise a defiant middle finger to the law as well as the claimant. As the late Paul Foot once said, "The Tories change the law to make it fit their lawbreaking." And we know what has happened in the past when Conservative governments have raised a middle finger to the law. Yep. The law and the courts have both slapped them down. 
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    Peter · 9 months ago
    I’m still on esa I’m hanging on right till the death 2028/2029  must admit I’m not looking forward to it all my friend is on it says it’s horrible  I have Asperger’s syndrome I will probably be 51 when it happens
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      Aw · 9 months ago
      @Peter I have come to the conclusion that I will not be able to successfully claim UC in it's current format. Given I have no other income that can only have one outcome. Why do we have parliamentary democracy? Because in my naivety I thought it was to make our lives better?
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