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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

IDS should come clean over Jobseeker's sanction rate

The Green Party’s Work and Pensions Spokesperson Jonathan Bartley is urging the government to come clean, following ‘misleading’ benefit sanctions figures issued by the Department for Work and Pensions. It comes after responses to Parliamentary Questions tabled by Green Party Peer, Baroness Jones confirmed that over 600,000 sanctions were given to those claiming Job Seekers Allowance in 2014, and that the government is not giving a true picture of the proportion being sanctioned each year.

The Department for Work and Pensions is refusing to provide an annual sanctions rate figure despite previously claiming that 94% of Jobseekers weren’t sanctioned - a claim which has now been shown to be false. The responses to the Parliamentary Questions reveal that the DWP’s figure is only a 'monthly ratio', and not a sanction rate. It takes no account of sanctions issued in previous or subsequent months to the same group of Jobseekers. The true sanction rate is therefore significantly higher.

The latest information reveals that 605,592 sanctions were issued in 2014 to JSA claimants. The total number of individual JSA claimants over this period was in the region of 3,600,000. This suggests an annual sanction rate of Job Seekers of 17%, or 1 in 6. However, the Government is refusing to provide an annual figure.

Green Party Work and Pensions Spokesperson Jonathan Bartley said: "Once agains the Government is misrepresenting figures to cover up the full extent of its pernicious sanctions regime. The Department for Work and Pensions clearly has something to hide. The Government should come clean and provide a true and accurate annual estimate. The use of sanctions appears to be at least three times higher than the DWP claims. Around one in six jobseekers is being sanctioned." 

The use of sanctions is clearly far more widespread than the government is admitting and this is taking a terrible toll not just on jobseekers, but also on their families and children." Mr Bartley added.

The Department for Work and Pensions has previously been reprimanded by the UK Statistics Watchdog for how it presents figures.