A Commons debate this month was told that universal credit sanctions are “back with a vengeance”, as the number of claimants hit has risen by two and a half times.

In the benefits sanctions debate on 13 December, MPs learned that in the last quarter, the number of UC sanctions was 250% higher than in the three months before the pandemic. 

This is a massive increase even allowing for the increased number of UC claimants.  It amounts to 2.5% of claimants being sanctioned each month compared to 1.4% before the pandemic.

The number of UC claimants who were serving a sanction in August was 115,274, after a peak of 117,999 in July. That is more than three times the pre-pandemic peak of 36,771 in October 2019.

In June 2022, £34 million was taken from claimants by way of sanctions, in July £34.9 million and in August, over £36 million.

Clearly sanctions are saving the DWP a significant amount of cash.

According to Labour MP Beth Winter “The latest sanctions were worth, on average, £262 a month. That is nearly a third of the average UC payment. This is a full-frontal attack on universal credit recipients that must end.”

As SNP MP Chris Stephens said, “Sanctions appear to be back with a vengeance”.

Answering for the government,  minister for employment, Guy Opperman repeatedly ducked the question why the number of sanctions had increased so rapidly unless the DWP had changed its policy on applying them.

All Opperman would say was that:

“The hon. Gentleman asked specifically about the rise in the number of sanctions. Some 98.2% of sanctions are for missing a meeting with a work coach.”

However, Opperman offered no explanation as to why twice as many claimants were now apparently choosing to miss appointments.

MPs raised the issue that claimants could be sanctioned for refusing to take a zero hours contract even if they already had a secure job, but for fewer hours.

Other claimants have been sanctioned because an appointment was created by a job coach on their journal at a time when the claimant had no data on their phone and no money to buy any.  By the time they could get afford additional data and saw the appointment, they had already missed it and been sanctioned.

SNP MP for Glasgow North East Anne McLaughlin said she is telling her constituents “If you have your benefits sanctioned, do not take it lying down. Contact me and I will fight this for you, because this is wrong and nobody should have to live on less than the minimum income”

Another SNP MP, Chris Stephens said that:

 “There are concerns that jobcentres have been told by senior managers and Ministers to “up their game” when it comes to sanctions . . .  There is inter-office competition, whereby different offices’ statistics are compared, pushing for higher sanction and deferral rates . . . There are also real effects on disabled claimants who are thrown into a group of those most likely to get a sanction, and the relative rate of sanctions for claimants with disabilities—all of that really needs to be explored further.”

You can read the full record of the debate on the Hansard site.


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  • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
    clearwater · 1 years ago
    I Don't seem to be able to reply or post new topics etc.    

    as i mentioned before do not think for a moment labour were any better helping disabled and sick people. this is what labour's Johnathan Ashworth said "Labour government will push for jobs for ‘not fit for work’ group, says Ashworth"


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    JamesEdith · 1 years ago
    This makes painfully sad reading.My heart is breaking for those already poor people.The Conservative Tories truly are a cruel heartless breed.I don't know how they can sleep at night.Very comfortably I believe. They have never had to worry about where the next meal is coming from or how they are going to keep warm.Even our Local Councils are adopting that same cruel attitude towards those in need.I overheard a Housing Officer giggle after a woman left the office sobbing after her begging for shelter fell on deaf ears. The housing officer smirked and giggled and then went on to mock the homeless woman's plight. She said "When she asked me what am I going todo? I almost told her to buy a tent" then she howled with laughter. I couldn't trust myself to speak I remain furious at the lack of empathy and care, since those evil Conservative Tories came to Power.There is definitely an insidious evil attitude at play in places of Power today.I wish I knew how to bring about positive change but that can only happen if peoples suffering reaches the hearts of people who care enough to make the changes require. I send my love and care to all of you who are struggling.
    • Thank you for your comment. Comments are moderated before being published.
      MrFibro · 1 years ago
      @JamesEdith Hi James,

      You hit the nail fright on the head.  Absolutely well said.

      Regards, good luck, and all the best @ xmas.
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    D · 1 years ago
    Other reasons people might miss appointments consistently is villagers with poor bus services. Our busses went from half hourly to hourly last June. My next bus stops are a 25 min walk so if your hourly bus no shows which for me has been 23 times out of 27. I have disabilities but even people without them are going to be late . 
    Our bus route is not profitable. And sometimes it 2 busses not showing and they take the 44 off which comes back as the 45. Their excuses is no driver. They have also closed the office call centre ( the arriva.  telling people to complain in snail mail. And are doing 0.  a social worker suggested an advocacy scheme for me but knows the bus situation. I was on the list for a bungalow some one screwed that up. So social worker says she won’t sort it out till I get a bungalow. Which could take 6 years. Because I can’t get to anything. I had a letter two days ago re DWP suggesting I speak to a lady from DWP i have rung it twice to explain my situation and the phone just rings it’s not engaged they aren’t manning it. I’m on esa support with EDP and they are gaslighting us all.  It’s Nazi physios  
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    A · 1 years ago
    I’m absolutely tired of UC, zero communication no one reads Ann’s answers my questions on journal! Then out of no where I’m sanctioned! 
    Also I was supposed to have had phone assessment- work capability assessment, no one rang! I reported it they then rescheduled and gave me a video appointment again I was waiting in the waiting room no one came! Then wait for it……
    The audacity! They attached a declaration stating I missed 2 appointments and therefore they’ve cancelled my assessments and they want a written statement for reasons why I didn’t attend! Then they wanted me to sign! 

    The cheek! I refused to explain or sign as I wasn’t in fault! I still haven’t had a call or letter apologising. Idiots! 
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    Jules · 1 years ago
    My grand daughter got sanctioned for missing aUC phone appt , she has mental health issues which were explained and we put in a mandatory reconsideration but have heard nothing back 
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