Jobseeker's Allowance: sanctions

The main facts and figures show that:

  • from October 2013 to December 2016, the percentage of claimants receiving sanctions fell, both for those in the White ethnic group and those in other ethnic groups combined

  • 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%)

  • older claimants were less likely to be sanctioned than younger claimants

  • claimants of Mixed ethnicity were more likely to be sanctioned than claimants from any other ethnic group, but this group also has the highest percentage of claimants aged 18 to 24 (a group more likely to receive sanctions regardless of ethnicity) and the lowest percentage of people aged 50 and over (the age group least likely to be sanctioned)

Things you need to know

This data counts the number of decisions to sanction, not the individuals being sanctioned. An individual can have more than one sanction in a month. For this reason, it isn’t possible to tell whether differences in the average percentage of sanctions between groups are because more people in a particular group received sanctions, or because a number of individuals in that group received multiple sanctions.

Not all individuals reported their ethnicity: a subgroup of ‘unreported ethnicity’ is included if you download the data. Some ethnic groups may be more likely than others to not report their ethnicity, and are therefore more likely to form part of the ‘unreported’ group. For the data to be accurate, all ethnic groups would need to be equally likely to not report their ethnicity.

In October 2012, a new sanctions regime was introduced. This means data before this date is not directly comparable to data from after it. For this reason, no data is included from the old sanctions regime on this page, but it is available on the Stat-Xplore website and in the DWP statistical summaries on GOV.UK.

These figures are subject to retrospection, which means they can be changed after first being published. This can happen if a Jobseeker's Allowance 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 ethnicity.

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

Sanctions are applied for a period of between 4 weeks and 156 weeks, depending on the reasons for the sanction and the number of times a claimant has failed to comply within a given time period.

The data only includes ‘adverse’ decisions. An adverse decision is where a sanction was given to a claimant and either:

  • not appealed
  • upheld after it was appealed

All sanctions of this sort, whatever their length, have been included. Where months appear in the data, they refer to the calendar month in which the sanction decision was made. Area data it refers to the claimant's place of residence.

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
  • 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

Ethnic groups and how data on ethnicity is collected

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity

Percentage of Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity

Ethnicity % 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 (CSV) Source data (CSV)

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

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 (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants in Yorkshire and The Humber were more likely to be sanctioned than claimants in other areas

  • Mixed ethnic claimants from the North East had the highest percentage of sanctions, at 3.2%

  • Other White and Asian claimants living in the West Midlands were the least likely to be sanctioned, at 0.8%

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

  • there were no areas where White British or Other White claimants were the most likely to be sanctioned

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity and age group

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

Aged 18-24 Aged 25-49 Aged 50+
Ethnic group % Number of sanctions % Number of sanctions % 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 (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • younger claimants received 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% overall)

  • the highest percentage of sanctions in the 25 to 49 age group was 1.8%, for both Black claimants and those from the Other ethnic group (compared with 1.5% overall)

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

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants sanctioned, by ethnicity over time

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

White Other
Month % Number of sanctions % 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 (CSV) Source data (CSV)

Summary

This data shows that:

  • from November 2012 to December 2016, claimants from ethnic minorities (except White ethnic minorities) 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

Methodology

Methodology

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 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.

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 data 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 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.

Rounding

Statistical disclosure control has been applied to sanction counts within Stat-Xplore to prevent individual claimants being identified.

Percentages are rounded to 1 decimal place.

Related publications

DWP benefits statistical summaries 2017

DWP benefits statistical summaries 2016

The [Benefit Sanctions Statistics publication] (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/jobseekers-allowance-sanctions) includes sanctions data from November 2016 onwards.

Quality and methodology information

Data sources

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.

Secondary source

Publisher

Department for Work and Pensions

Publication frequency

Monthly

Download the data

JSA sanctions - Spreadsheet (csv) 3 MB

Region, month, ethnic group, numerator, denominator