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[Image: Drew (Andrew Fraser) http://www.cartoonsidrew.com/]

[Image: Drew (Andrew Fraser) http://www.cartoonsidrew.com/]

Has anybody else noticed the eerie similarity between the drop in unemployment over the last three months, recorded by the Office for National Statistics (132,000), and the number of jobseekers put on sanction by the Department for Work and Pensions every month (170,000)?

According to a Guardian report, the Lib Dems said the number of sanction referrals has increased from around 60,000 a month in the early part of the last decade to around 170,000 today – and went on to state that around 15 per cent of these sanctions were overturned on the grounds that the decision was flawed.

That means 144,500 jobseekers would be off-benefit at the moment. If the figures show a drop of only 132,000, then unemployment has in fact risen by 12,500 people!

People claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance who have their benefits sanctioned by DWP staff are not included in unemployment counts. Nor are those who have been sucked into mandatory work activity schemes, for that matter…

The Liberal Democrats, you see, want to introduce a “yellow card” system – well they would; yellow is their colour – to give rule-breaking jobseekers a final warning before sanctions are imposed, and DWP bosses a chance to check the facts and avoid mistakes.

On the face of it, this might seem like a good idea – and it would be very interesting to monitor such a scheme, if implemented.

If the claimant count were to rise, we would have proof that the Conservatives have been using sanctions to manipulate the figures.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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