The Department for Work and Pensions uses sanctions to encourage people to meet conditions for receiving benefits. We know that sanctions encourage some people into work but sanctions have increased in severity in recent years and can have serious consequences such as debt, rent arrears and homelessness. It is, therefore, important that the Department uses sanctions carefully and protects vulnerable people from unnecessary hardship. There is an unacceptable amount of unexplained variation in the Department’s use of sanctions, so claimants are being treated differently depending on where they live. The Department has poor data and therefore cannot be confident about what approaches work best, and why, and what is not working. It does not know whether vulnerable people are protected as they are meant to be. Nor can it estimate the wider effects of sanctions on people and their overall cost, or benefit, to government.
17 February 2017