Official figures released by the government have shown that almost 50 percent of all sanctions imposed on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) claimants have been overturned when reviewed.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can apply sanctions to various benefits if they believe claimants have not met the rules for claiming. A sanction means that the benefits will be stopped or reduced for either a fixed or open-ended period of time.
Examples of when a sanction can be applied include; failing to attend or take part in a work-focused interview without good reason or not attending an adviser interview without good reason.
The statistics released show that:
Since the new sanctions regime was introduced (October 2012 for JSA and December 2012 for ESA) to March 2015 there were 1, 824,877 adverse sanctions against claimants.
575,901 of sanction decisions were challenged - in 285,327 cases the decision was overturned – approximately 50 per cent
For JSA claimants 421,799 decisions were reviewed - in 234,701 cases the decision was overturned
For ESA 45,774 decisions were reviewed - in 20,400 cases the decision was overturned
In response to the figures released by DWP, Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us said: “With ongoing changes to the welfare benefits system we know that it is a confusing and uncertain time for those claiming.”
“Many hundreds of thousands of people are being put through unnecessary stress. It is not acceptable that more misery is being added to lives of those that are already feeling vulnerable.”
“The that fact almost half of all reviewed sanctions are being overturned raises concern and informs us that too many decisions are being made often with a devastating impact on those individuals concerned. The inevitable consequence of this may well be for them to go to foodbanks to survive. This is simply unacceptable.”
Source: Government Statistics