Sanction numbers rose to record high of 900,000 in 2013

Thu, 20/02/2014 - 12:40 -- nick

The number of benefit sanctions rose to a record 897,690 in the year to September, the Department for Work and Pensions has revealed.

Sanctions see claimants having their benefits removed for four weeks the first time they are applied, and can stretch to years subsequently.

In the final year of Labour government in 2009-10, 500,000 Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) sanctions were handed out -itself a record number - compared to 874,850 last year.

The huge rise of 75% came despite no evidence that jobseekers were committing more offences, and while fewer people were claiming JSA than in 2010, meaning a huge proportion are now being thrown into poverty.

There is evidence, however, that jobcentres are now working to sanctions targets and providing financial incentives to its frontline staff to sanction more, despite official denials.

This includes a report by the work and pensions select committee of MPs, which admitted last month that these targets were in place and called for the government to improve its jobcentre service.

Targets and incentives are likely to be behind the big rise in sanctions, and contribute to more people losing benefits unfairly.

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