The number of sick and disabled people affected by the government’s controversial benefit sanctions regime rocketed by 31% in the last year, the Daily Mirror has reported.
According to the Mirror, figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 33,357 Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants saw their benefit payments docked in 2014-15.
This, the newspaper says, equates to around 6.8 sanctions for every 100 claimants and is 31% higher than the previous year; when the proportion of sanctions stood at 5.2 per every 100 claimants.
A report by the Work and Pensions Select Committee earlier this year called for a “full independent review” into the benefit sanctions regime.
Former chair of the committee Dame Anne Begg said in March: “Benefit sanctions are controversial because they withhold subsistence-level benefits from people who may have little or no other income.
“We agree that benefit conditionality is necessary but it is essential that policy is based on clear evidence of what works in terms of encouraging people to take up the support which is available to help them get back into work.
“The policy must then be applied fairly and proportionately. The system must also be capable of identifying and protecting vulnerable people, including those with mental health problems and learning disabilities.
“And it should avoid causing severe financial hardship. The system as currently applied does not always achieve this.”
The members of the committee were changed following the general election, with Labour’s Frank Field appointed as the new chairperson.
Benefit sanctions have often been described as a ‘post-code lottery’, with jobseekers in some parts of the country more likely to have their benefits stopped than those in other towns and cities
BBC News has reported how jobseekers in Dundee were 50% more likely to be sanctioned than those living in Glasgow.