Nearly half of benefit sanctions imposed against Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants are overturned on appeal, official figures show.
Statistics show that since the new sanctions regime was introduced in October 2012 (December 3, 2012 for ESA), there has been 1,824,877 adverse sanctions imposed against JSA and ESA claimants up to March 31 2015.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has highlighted how 575,901 of these sanctions were challenged with 285,327 being overturned – a staggering 49.5%.
Commenting on the findings, SNP Welfare Spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP said:
“The sanctions regime instituted by the UK Government is causing heartache and misery to hundreds of thousands of people across the UK – and the fact that half of all those challenged are overturned is deeply concerning.
“We have already heard the heartbreaking stories of claimants being sanctioned whilst in hospital recovering from a heart attack or other medical emergency, but these figures lay bare the ‘sanction now, ask questions later’ nature of the UK Government’s indefensible regime.
“With very nearly 50 per cent of reviewed cases being reversed, it is clear to see that these cruel and punitive sanctions are being slapped on people before proper consideration and understanding of individual circumstances have been established.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are being put through tremendous worry and stress for absolutely no reason. It also shows how important it this that claimants appeal when they believe they have been unfairly sanctioned.
“There needs to be an immediate review of the UK Government’s conditionality and sanctions regime, with an immediate halt to any new sanctions whilst it is carried out.
“The sanctions regime is a direct attack by the UK Government on society’s most vulnerable people.”
The findings suggest that a greater number of benefit sanctions could be reversed if more claimants challenged adverse decisions.
Claimants can ask for adverse decisions to be reviewed by DWP decision makers. If this is unsuccessful they can then lodge an appeal within a month of receiving the reconsideration notice.