Sanctions have dramatically increased
Corporate Watch Research has found that 139,000 sanctions were handed out to Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in 2009 but this more than tripled to 508,000 in 2011, the coalition’s first full calendar year in government. There was little change in the number of people signing on in this period, meaning a much higher proportion of people have had their benefits cut. Sanctions can now last up to 3 years and as of early 2014 70,000 people are being sanctioned each month. In 3 years of the Work Programme 5 times as many people have been sanctioned as found long term jobs. You can see in the graph below (click to enlarge) how the rate of sanctioning grew massively after the Coalition Government came to power and the more punitive sanctions regime came into force in late 2012.
Many of these sanctions are initially suggested, or ‘referred’, to the Department of Work and Pensions by the private companies the government has sub-contracted to run many of its welfare schemes, such as the flagship Work Programme, for people who have been signing on for a year or more. DWP statistics, obtained by a Corporate Watch freedom of information request (download the disclosure here), show companies such as Serco, Seetec, Working Links and A4E have been even more eager to sanction people than the government.
Further Corporate Watch research has found that approximately 1 in 5 people sent on Mandatory Work Activity have been sanctioned for between three and six months.