David Webster’s 13th briefing on sanctions makes for disturbing reading. The figures from DWP have consistently and substantially underestimated the numbers of people undergoing sanctions; the effect of taking account of the high rate of sanctions for Universal Credit claimants is almost to double the reported figures. Key issues, such as suspension of Housing Benefit, have been misreported to Parliament. Although the rate of sanctions has slowed, sanctions have by now been imposed on most longer term claimants of JSA, and 85% of those unemployed for more than three years.
|0-3 months||3-6 months||6 months-1 year||1-2 years||2-3 years||3-4 years||4-5 years|
|% of individual claimants
|% of these claimants sanctioned||6||15||24||37||49||85||n.a.|
The long-awaited report from the Public Accounts Committee does not address these issues. Their strongest criticism is that the DWP seem not to know what the effects of sanctions are. They are attracted by the idea of a warning system, which has been trialled and, David argues, has already been shown not to work. They call for greater evidence for consistency between offices – in other words, for targets.