The cost to job seekers of having their benefit payments stopped has rocketed by 3,000% under the Tory-led coalition Government, new figures show.

Analysis of Government figures by the PCS union reveals that the value of Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) payments sanctioned in the year to September 2014 was £355 million, compared to just £11 million in 2009/2010.

PCS says the shocking figure explains why benefit sanctions have been directly linked to a surge in food bank users.

The food bank charity Trussell Trust supported more than 913,000 people with three-days worth of emergency food in 2013/14.

The new research from PCS is published ahead of a Dispatches investigation to be broadcast this evening into the government’s sanctions regime.

The documentary will feature details of a new report from a coalition of major churches, which reveals that nearly 100,000 children were affected by benefit sanctions last year.

Under changes to the sanctions regime, the length of time sanctions can be imposed for has increased, with the minimum set at four weeks, rising to 13 weeks and up to three years.

Opponents of the new system say unemployed people are being unfairly “vilified” and demonised for economic problems not of their making.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This government is imposing much harsher penalties on people who rely on social security at the same time as seeking to blame and vilify them for being out of work.

“Sanctions do nothing to help unemployed people find sustainable jobs. They only poison the relationship between claimants and jobcentre staff, and they should be scrapped immediately.”

Commenting on the impact of benefit sanction on Britain’s poorest children, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Something has gone badly wrong when 100,000 children are innocent victims of benefit sanctions.

“Under this government the sanctions system has become a cruel maze in which it is all too easy for claimants to lose cash for minor breaches of rules and random decisions.

“Even those who have contributed for years and are working hard to get a new job can find themselves sanctioned, and driven to food banks.

“There are now huge holes in the welfare safety net that whole families are falling through.

“And Jobcentre staff have been forced to moved away from providing positive help to meeting sanctions targets in a culture that is too often about bullying both frontline staff and claimants.”


  1. I have had to use Jobcentres 4 times in my working life (thank goodness) and although I was never sanctioned I was only once treated in a sympathetic way. One time I was out of work I had to plead to get on a work course, although there was a shortage of takers for this particular course. I’ve been spoken to as though I was 10. And never got a job through the Jobcentre. And as far as my experience went I would think that most of the Jobcentre staff love giving out sanctions.

  2. But its PCS members that are dolling out the sanctions, or they get sanctioned themselves via PIP’s (Personal improvement plans)… so the PCS and its members are complicit in this disgusting behaviour.

  3. Holes on the safety net There’s a bloody big gaping hole. Some people think if someone gets sanctioned it simply isn’t the case. Job center staff have targets to meet to enforce sanctions or they don’t get bonus of promotion or pay rises. You can get sanctioned for making a spelling mistake. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there with no money.They are the deaf the blind people with learning difficulties illiterate and mental health issues Purely because they do not have the where with all to keep track of letters etc. Creeping towards ethnic cleansing

    • It’s happening everywhere. In London, they are trying to get rid of the poor by making rents and properties too expensive for them to stay there. Moving people out to other counties if they are homeless.

      I would like to know what would happen if the poor are all moved out of London who will do the low-paying jobs, such as cleaners etc. With the price of travel in to the capital will the rich do their own cleaning?

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