Punishing Poverty: A review of benefits sanctions and their impacts on clients and claimants

Politics and Insights

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Benefits sanctions are financial penalties that are given to people who are deemed to have not met the conditions for claiming benefits. The social security system has always been based on people meeting certain conditions – this has  been true for all working-age benefit claimants, with sanctions applicable to those who fail to observe those conditions. This has been the case since its inception.

However, the Coalition changed the conditions and increased the application, duration and severity of sanctions that apply to those claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and extended the application of sanctions to those in the Work Related Activity Group of those claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Since 2012, benefit payments can be suspended for a minimum of four weeks and for up to three years where a person “fails to take sufficient steps to search for work”, to “prepare themselves for the labour market” or where they…

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