The Green Party is urging the Tory Government to come clean on the number of jobseekers affected by a “pernicious” benefit sanctions regime.
The call comes after responses to a parliamentary question from Green Party Peer, Baroness Jones, confirmed that over 600,000 sanctions were given to jobseekers in 2014.
Green Party Work and Pensions spokesperson, Jonathan Bartley, accused the Government of trying to “cover up the full extent of its pernicious sanctions regime” by publishing ‘misleading’ figures.
The Government has previously stated: “Benefit Sanctions are only used as a last resort in a small percentage of cases, with over 94% of JSA claimants and 99% of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants not being sanctioned”.
Figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveal that 605,592 sanctions were issued in 2014 against Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants.
A Green Party analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics, found there were around 3,600,000 individual JSA claimants during 2014. This includes 2,543,000 new claims.
The Party argues that this could mean an ‘annual sanction rate’ of 17% – or around one in six of all JSA claimants. However, the DWP only publishes a ‘monthly ratio’ and is refusing to provide an annual figure.
Green Party Work and Pensions Spokesperson Jonathan Bartley said: “Once again the Government is misrepresenting figures to cover up the full extent of its pernicious sanctions regime. The Department for Work and Pensions clearly has something to hide.
“The Government should come clean and provide a true and accurate annual estimate. The use of sanctions appears to be at least three times higher than the DWP claims. Around one in six jobseekers is being sanctioned.
“The use of sanctions is clearly far more widespread than the government is admitting and this is taking a terrible toll not just on jobseekers, but also on their families and children.”