Figures on the number of claimants receiving benefit for Employment and Support Allowance work-related activity group (ESA (WRAG)) are based on Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administrative data.
Figures on the number of decisions to sanction (decisions to reduce the claimants’ personal allowance) are official statistics from the DWP Quarterly Benefits Summary and the dissemination tool Stat-Xplore.
They include all sanctions irrespective of length. Sanctions are open-ended until the claimant re-engages with their interview or work-related activity, followed by a fixed-length sanction applied for a period of between 1 week and 4 weeks, depending on the number of failures to comply that a claimant has had within a given time period.
ESA sanctions are only applied to claimants in the work-related activity group (WRAG). Claimants in the ESA Support Group do not have any conditions to meet, and therefore are not subject to sanctions.
The monthly percentage is calculated by dividing the number of decisions to apply a sanction in a full calendar month by the claimant count at a point in time in the same month. Sanction decisions here do not include decisions that have been reversed, for example on an appeal by the claimant.
The point-in-time monthly claimant count is calculated as the number of people claiming ESA on the last day of the month and is only available for every third month (quarterly).
Statistics on ESA sanctions are taken from a combination of data from 3 IT systems. Recording and clerical errors can occur within these systems, and for this reason no reliance should be placed on very small numbers.
The ESA (WRAG) claimant count and number of sanctions is published quarterly, giving a quarterly breakdown.
The methodology for calculating the experimental monthly percentage of claimants sanctioned each month was recently changed in the August 2017 Quarterly Benefits Summary, and differs from that used here. The new methodology is based on the start and end dates of sanctions. Figures calculated using the new methodology will be available from Stat-Xplore at a later date.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Where the numbers involved are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions, the data has been ‘suppressed’. This means it has been excluded from the analysis. For this data, cell values have been randomly adjusted. Random adjustment is the best way to avoid the release of identifiable data.
These adjustments result in small, introduced random errors. However, the information value of the table as a whole is not impaired.
It’s not possible to say which individual figures are affected, but the variability introduced by the adjustment is generally small enough to be ignored.
Values can also be affected by respondent and processing errors. You should treat data where the numbers are small with particular care.
The figures in the tables for total numbers of sanctions are unrounded. However, disclosure control has been applied.
Percentages have been rounded to 1 decimal place.