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Nearly 44,000 benefit sanctions were imposed on lone parents claiming Income Support in the last year, official figures show.

Data published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), reveals that 43,800 sanctions were imposed on 39,600 individual claims in the year up to and including March 2015.

This represents approximately 6% of the entire Income Support caseload over the same period, says the DWP.

The Government toughened Income Support requirements for lone parents in April 2014. Changes mean lone parents whose youngest child is between the age of three and four must undertake “work related activities” or run the risk of their Income Support payments being cut.

Requirements may include attending mandatory interviews, writing a CV, improving skills and other activities.

The DWP says work related activities for lone parents in receipt of Income Support “will be flexible, tailored to the individual, and must be reasonable taking into account the parent’s circumstances”.

However, those who fail to adhere to the tough new rules face a possible reduction in their Income Support personal allowance of 20%. A lone parent over the age of 25 would lose more than £14 for each week the sanction is enforced, with potential knock on affects for their children.

The sanction would be imposed from “the first day of the benefit week following the date that the decision made” for a set period, leaving already struggling single parents with a reduced income.

Lone parents whose youngest child is between one and four must also attend Work Focused Interviews with their ‘Personal Adviser’. More than 652,000 Work Focused Interviews for Income Support lone parents were conducted in the year up to and including March 2015.

Those whose youngest child is under the age of one are not affected by the changes until after their child’s first birthday.

In a slightly busy day for new statistics, figures published by the DWP today show a 31% increase in the proportion of sick and disabled people hit by benefit sanctions.

The department has also released new job outcome data for ‘Work Choice’, an employment scheme designed to help sick and disabled people find and keep a job. Follow this link for more details.

And tomorrow (Thursday) will see the publication of much delayed and anticipated benefit deaths statistics.

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