Sanctions update and mortality figures released by DWP

A new Upper Tier Tribunal decision –  CJSA/4684/2014 – has concluded in favour of a benefit claimant on the basis that arriving ten minutes late for an appointment does not, in isolation, amount to a failure to carry out a jobseeker’s direction. The claimant had been sanctioned for 4 weeks after arriving ten minutes late for a Jobcentre Plus appointment, and his subsequent request for a mandatory reconsideration and an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal both failed. However, the Upper Tier Tribunal found that there was no refusal to follow a jobseeker’s direction, that the late arrival was a genuine error and the claimant had reported it to the jobcentre the same day and rebooked the appointment, and therefore concluded that the decision to sanction was ‘disproportionate’.

Evidence of a postcode lottery in benefit sanctions in Scotland has been uncovered by a new analysis of the latest figures. The New Policy Institute (NPI) said the statistics suggested that people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Dundee were nearly 50% more likely to be sanctioned than claimants in Glasgow. According to analysis by the NPI, the monthly sanction referral rate in Dundee in 2014 was 12.4% – 4.7 percentage points higher than in Glasgow, with 7.7%. In Scotland as a whole in 2014, the average monthly sanction rate for those aged under-25 was 8%, compared to 3.7% for those aged 25 and over.

New mortality statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) last week revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014, 2,380 people died after their claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found that they were fit for work. These mortality figures were released in response to freedom of information requests, and were compiled by the DWP following a ruling by the Information Commissioner’s Office in April 2015.