Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions

Published

There is a new version of this page. View the latest version.

1. Main facts and figures

  • the percentage of claimants sanctioned in both White and other groups fell between October 2013 and December 2016

  • in December 2016 the percentage of claimants sanctioned from ethnic minorities (other than White ethnic minorities) (1.7%) was slightly greater than the percentage of White claimants sanctioned (1.5%)

  • the percentage of claimants sanctioned falls with age

  • claimants of Mixed ethnicity were more likely to be sanctioned than claimants from any other ethnic group

Things you need to know

Figures on the number of claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) are based on Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) administrative data.

These figures only include details of claimants’ applications that are on the DWP’s computer records. Applications may not be on the system for a variety of reasons, such as missing or incomplete information. These are known as ‘non-computerised clerical claims’, and make up approximately 1% of all claims.

Figures on the number of decisions to stop JSA (‘sanctions’) are official statistics from the DWP Quarterly Benefits Summary and the dissemination tool Stat-Xplore.

They include all sanctions irrespective of length. Sanctions are applied for a period of between 4 weeks and 156 weeks, depending on the reasons for the sanction and the number of failures to comply that a claimant has had within a given time period.

Sanction decisions here do not include decisions that have been reversed, for example on an appeal by the claimant.

‘Month’ refers to the calendar month the sanction decision was made in.

An individual can have more than one sanction in a month. It isn’t possible to determine whether any differences in the average percentage of sanctions between groups are because more people in a group received individual sanctions, or because a number of individuals in that group received multiple sanctions.

Not all individuals reported ethnicity, so there is a subgroup of ‘unreported ethnicity’ included in the data. Data may be inaccurate if one ethnicity is more likely than another to not report their ethnic group, as they will be more likely to be in the unreported category. For the results to be accurate all individuals would need to be as likely as each other to report their ethnicity, regardless of other characteristics.

‘Area’ is based on the claimant's place of residence.

These figures are subject to retrospection, which means they can be changed after being first published. This can happen if a JSA sanction that was initially given was later revoked on appeal. Therefore, the figures here may not match other published sources (such as Nomis and Stat-Xplore).

What the data measures

This data measures the number of monthly decisions to stop (‘sanction’) claimants’ Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) as a percentage of JSA claims at a point in time in the same month, broken down by ethnic group.

The data only includes ‘adverse’ decisions, which are decisions to apply sanctions, and decisions to uphold sanctions at reconsideration or appeal stage.

The data doesn’t include sanctions that were cancelled on appeal or withdrawn for another reason.

The 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.

JSA is an unemployment benefit a person of working age (16 to 64 years) can claim while looking for work. Someone can usually claim JSA if they:

  • are available for work
  • are actively seeking work
  • work on average less than 16 hours per week
  • are not in full-time education
  • meet certain conditions if they are aged 16 to 17 years

A person claiming JSA may be sanctioned if they don’t do something they’re asked to do by their Jobcentre adviser without good reason - for example, if they:

  • don’t accept or keep to their agreement to look for work
  • fail to go to a Jobcentre Plus office when they’re asked to
  • turn down a job or training course
  • fail to apply for any jobs they’re told about
  • fail to attend any interviews they’ve been invited to
  • fail to attend any training that has been booked for them or take part in employment schemes
  • leave their last job or training without good reason or because of their behaviour

The figures come from Department for Work and Pensions administrative data.

The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, the number of decisions to sanction (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions about detailed ethnic categories.

Therefore, the data is broken down into 6 broad groups, where ‘White Other’ refers to White ethnic minorities:

  • Asian/Asian British
  • Black/Black British
  • Mixed/Multiple
  • White British
  • White Other
  • Other

In the analysis of sanctions by ethnicity over time, 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. Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity

Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity
Ethnic Group % Number of sanctions
All 1.6 7,420
Asian 1.6 489
Black 1.8 744
Mixed 2.0 206
White British 1.5 5,064
White Other 1.3 261
Other 1.7 226

Download table data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity Summary

This data shows that:

  • the Mixed ethnic group had the highest percentage of claimants sanctioned (2%)

  • the percentage of claimants sanctioned in the White ethnic groups was lower than in all other ethnic groups

3. Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and area

Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and area
Area All Asian Black Mixed White British White Other Other
% % % % % % %
East Midlands 1.3 1.2 1.8 1.6 1.3 1.1 1.6
East of England 1.8 1.5 1.7 2.8 1.8 0.9 2.1
London 1.8 1.8 1.9 2.2 1.9 1.0 1.8
North East 1.5 1.4 2.0 3.2 1.5 1.0 2.4
North West 1.5 1.4 1.7 2.3 1.5 1.4 2.2
Scotland 1.4 1.1 1.7 withheld to protect confidentiality 1.4 1.6 1.3
South East 1.7 1.6 2.1 1.4 1.6 1.7 1.2
South West 1.4 withheld to protect confidentiality 1.8 2.1 1.3 1.4 1.7
Wales 1.4 2.8 1.3 2.2 1.3 1.9 withheld to protect confidentiality
West Midlands 1.2 0.8 1.3 1.4 1.1 0.8 1.3
Yorkshire and The Humber 2.2 2.7 2.2 2.4 2.1 2.0 1.5

Download table data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and area Summary

This data shows that:

  • JSA claimants in Yorkshire and The Humber were more likely to be sanctioned than claimants in other areas in December 2016

  • the highest percentage of sanctions is 3.2% - for claimants from the Mixed ethnic group in the North East

  • claimants of other White ethnicities and Asian claimants living in the West Midlands were the least likely to be sanctioned (0.8%)

  • the South East, Wales, Yorkshire and East Midlands were the only areas where claimants with mixed ethnicity were not the most likely to be sanctioned

  • there are no areas where White British claimants or claimants from White ethnic minorities were the most likely to be sanctioned

4. Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age

Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age
Aged 18-24 Aged 25-49 Aged 50+
Ethnic group Aged 18-24 % Aged 18-24 Number of sanctions Aged 25-49 % Aged 25-49 Number of sanctions Aged 50+ % Aged 50+ Number of sanctions
All 3.9 2,057 1.5 4,119 0.8 1,224
Asian 3.6 105 1.5 291 1.1 97
Black 4.7 181 1.8 453 0.9 111
Mixed 4.6 78 1.5 104 0.9 16
White British 3.9 1,495 1.5 2,707 0.8 856
White Other 3.4 56 1.4 169 0.6 32
Other 2.9 49 1.8 165 0.6 16

Download table data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age’ (CSV)

Summary of Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age Summary

This data shows that:

  • younger claimants receive more sanctions than older people

  • 3.9% of White British claimants aged 18 to 24 received sanctions, compared with 1.5% of claimants from the same ethnic group aged 25 to 49, and 0.8% aged 50 or over

  • the highest percentage of sanctions in the 18 to 24 age group was 4.7% - for Black claimants (compared with 3.9% across all groups)

  • the highest percentage of sanctions in the 25 to 49 age was 1.8% - equally for Black claimants and those from other ethnic groups (compared with 1.5% across all groups)

  • Asian claimants aged 50 and over were most likely to be sanctioned in that age group (1.1% compared to 0.8% across all groups)

5. Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time

Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time
White Other
Month White % White Number of sanctions Other % Other Number of sanctions
Nov-12 4.8 54,718 5.9 14,336
Dec-12 3.8 42,704 4.7 11,313
Jan-13 4.6 55,098 6.0 14,405
Feb-13 3.9 47,780 5.1 12,456
Mar-13 4.3 51,042 5.4 13,143
Apr-13 5.1 58,544 5.9 14,177
May-13 5.4 60,642 6.1 14,536
Jun-13 5.1 54,018 5.6 13,090
Jul-13 6.3 66,359 6.9 15,966
Aug-13 6.0 61,302 6.4 14,680
Sep-13 6.2 60,025 6.7 14,768
Oct-13 7.4 68,423 8.3 17,277
Nov-13 6.1 54,841 6.8 13,558
Dec-13 4.8 42,146 5.3 10,357
Jan-14 5.8 53,223 6.5 12,676
Feb-14 5.1 47,397 5.9 11,560
Mar-14 5.3 46,702 6.0 11,402
Apr-14 4.9 40,871 5.8 10,704
May-14 4.9 38,725 5.4 9,693
Jun-14 5.3 39,425 6.0 10,284
Jul-14 5.3 38,296 6.1 10,470
Aug-14 4.7 32,081 5.4 9,039
Sep-14 4.9 31,969 5.4 8,654
Oct-14 4.5 28,695 5.0 7,719
Nov-14 4.3 26,264 4.8 7,007
Dec-14 3.7 21,681 3.9 5,538
Jan-15 4.0 24,780 4.3 6,125
Feb-15 3.8 23,669 4.1 5,966
Mar-15 4.1 24,210 4.4 6,286
Apr-15 3.3 18,942 3.4 4,700
May-15 3.0 16,043 3.0 4,013
Jun-15 3.3 17,198 3.4 4,450
Jul-15 3.0 15,308 3.1 4,063
Aug-15 2.7 13,372 2.9 3,821
Sep-15 2.6 12,675 2.8 3,639
Oct-15 2.7 12,861 2.9 3,608
Nov-15 2.6 11,721 2.8 3,294
Dec-15 2.2 9,918 2.5 2,879
Jan-16 2.1 9,974 2.4 2,894
Feb-16 2.2 10,434 2.3 2,851
Mar-16 2.3 10,475 2.4 2,859
Apr-16 2.2 9,408 2.2 2,653
May-16 2.0 8,577 2.1 2,446
Jun-16 2.0 7,941 2.2 2,477
Jul-16 1.7 6,735 1.8 1,961
Aug-16 1.7 6,564 1.8 1,965
Sep-16 1.6 5,966 1.7 1,783
Oct-16 1.5 5,458 1.7 1,706
Nov-16 1.8 6,197 2.0 1,960
Dec-16 1.5 5,323 1.7 1,668

Download table data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time Summary

This data shows that:

  • from November 2012 to December 2016 claimants from other ethnic groups were generally more likely to be sanctioned than White claimants

  • since October 2013 the percentage of claimants receiving sanctions has fallen for all ethnic groups

6. Methodology

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 JSA on the second Thursday of the month.

Statistics on JSA 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 JSA claimant count is published monthly and the number of sanctions is published quarterly, giving a monthly breakdown.

The methodology for calculating the experimental monthly percentage of claimants sanctioned each month was recently changed in the August 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 cells contain nil or negligible values, the data has been suppressed.

‘Suppression’ means these figures have not been included in the data, because the numbers involved are too small to draw any meaningful conclusions. For this data, cell values have been randomly adjusted. Random adjustment of the data is considered the most satisfactory technique for avoiding the release of identifiable data.

When the technique is applied, all cells may be slightly adjusted to prevent any identifiable data being exposed. 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.

Rounding

Sanctions data is unrounded. However, disclosure control has been applied.

Percentages are rounded to the nearest 0.1%.

Related publications

DWP benefits statistical summaries 2017

DWP benefits statistical summaries 2016

Quality and methodology information

7. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Office for National Statistics

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The Annual Population Survey (APS) is the largest household survey in the UK and covers topics, including:

  • personal characteristics
  • labour market status
  • work characteristics
  • education
  • health

The purpose of the APS is to provide information on social and socio-economic variables at local levels, such as labour market estimates.

The published statistics also allow the government to monitor estimates between Censuses.

Secondary source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

Experimental statistics

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Quarterly

Purpose of data source

The figures for the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and the number of decisions to stop benefit (‘sanctions’) are administrative data used to produce official and experimental statistics.

8. Download the data

JSA sanctions - Spreadsheet (csv) 3 MB

Region, month, ethnic group, numerator, denominator