Press release

Benefit sanctions figures published

JSA payments to claimants who haven’t stuck to the rules have been suspended 818,000 times since we introduced new rules in October 2012.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants who failed to do enough to find work, failed to attend appointments or have turned down job-offers, have had their benefits payments suspended 818,000 times since new tougher rules were introduced in October 2012, new figures published today show.

The new JSA sanctions regime, which was introduced in October 2012 as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, encourages people to engage with the support being offered by Jobcentres by making it clearer to claimants what they are expected to do in return for their benefits – and that they risk losing them if they don’t stick to the rules.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:

This government has always been clear that in return for claiming unemployment benefits jobseekers have a responsibility to do everything they can to get back into work. As part of the government’s long-term economic plan, we are ending the something for nothing culture and supporting those who want to work hard and play by the rules.

People who are in a job know that if they don’t play by the rules or fail to turn up in the morning, there might be consequences, so it’s only right that people on benefits should have similar responsibilities. However, sanctions are used as a last resort.

In each month sanctions only make up to 6% of the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The new sanctions regime also makes sanctions more proportionate: with shorter sanctions for minor offences and tougher ones for repeat offenders. Repeat offenders can now lose benefits for up to 3 years.

People who are in genuine need can apply for hardship payments.

Today’s publication details the number of sanctions imposed from when the new regime was introduced in October 2012 up until September 2013.

They show that:

  • there has been a rise in the number of sanctions compared with last year – between November 2012 (the first full month of the new sanctions) and September 2013 there were 789,000 sanctions. This compares to 705,000 between November 2011 – September 2012

  • the number of the most severe sanctions (refusing employment, leaving employment voluntarily or losing employment through misconduct) has reduced – there were a third less high level sanctions in the 3 months July to September 2013, compared to the same period in 2012

  • the most common reason for a JSA sanction (36%) was a failure on the part of the jobseeker to actively look for work

  • 30% were sanctioned because they failed to participate in employment programmes (including the Work Programme) designed to help people back to work

  • 19% were sanctioned because they didn’t have a good reason for missing a meeting at the Jobcentre

The government is also introducing the Claimant Commitment for anyone making a new claim for JSA. The commitment will see jobseekers having to account more clearly for their efforts to find work in order to receive their benefits.

Read the statistics on Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance sanctions.

More information about sanctions

Sanctions are used as a last resort and the DWP has put in place a comprehensive monitoring regime to ensure that sanctions are always and only applied where appropriate to do so.

The decision to impose a sanction is taken by an independent decision maker – and everyone has the right to appeal. Crucially, people are always made aware of their right to appeal before any sanction is imposed.

People who are in genuine need can apply for hardship payments.

Contact Press Office

Media enquiries for this press release – 0203 267 5161

Press Office

Caxton House
Tothill Street


Follow DWP on:

Published 20 February 2014