Employment and Support Allowance: sanctions
1. Main facts and figures
in November 2016, claimants from the Other ethnic group were most likely to be sanctioned, and claimants from the White British and Asian groups were least likely to be
older claimants were less likely to be sanctioned than younger claimants
a smaller percentage of White claimants were sanctioned than claimants from other ethnic groups in every quarter between February 2013 and November 2016, with the exception of January, February and March 2016
The ethnic categories used in this data
For this data, the number of people from specific ethnic categories surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions.
Therefore, the data is broken down into 6 broad groups, where ‘White Other’ refers to White ethnic minorities:
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/Black British
- White British
- White Other
For data analysed both by ethnicity and by area, by age, or over time, sample sizes become smaller still. For this reason, the data is broken down into 2 broad groups:
- White – White ethnic groups (including White British and White ethnic minorities)
- Other – all other ethnic minorities
2. By ethnicity
3. By ethnicity over time
|Month||White %||White Number of sanctions||Other %||Other Number of sanctions|
4. By ethnicity and age group
|Age group||White %||White Number of sanctions||Other %||Other Number of sanctions|
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.
6. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Office for National Statistics
Purpose of data source
The main purpose of the Annual Population Survey (APS) is to provide good quality estimates about the UK workforce. It’s the largest household study in the UK in terms of how many people it’s sent to and how in depth the questions are. It provides the official measures of employment and unemployment.
The survey measures all elements of people's work, including:
- the education and training needed to equip them for work
- features of their jobs
- unemployment and job seeking
- income from work and benefits
Type of data
Type of statistic
Department for Work and Pensions
Purpose of data source
The figures for the number of people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) in the Work-Related Activity Group and the number of decisions to sanction the benefit are administrative data used to produce official and experimental statistics.