‘Harmful’ ESA benefit sanctions double in one year – who’s at risk and why – Mirror Online

Benefits officials have nearly doubled sanctions against Brits claiming Employment and Support Allowance in just one year.

In 2014, they dished out 75 sanctions for every 1,000 claimants in the ESA work-related activity group.

A year earlier, the rate was 40 sanctions for every 1,000 claimants, according to figures analysed by Trinity Mirror’s data unit.

The DWP, led by Iain Duncan Smith… made changes to the ESA sanctions system during the last Government.

Under the old system, claimants who failed to keep up their end of the bargain were sanctioned until they starting fulfilling their obligations again.

The new system is tougher and also punishes people for a fixed time of up to four weeks after they start to re-comply with the terms of the benefit.

Source: ‘Harmful’ ESA benefit sanctions double in one year – who’s at risk and why – Mirror Online#ICID=sharebar_twitter#ICID=sharebar_twitter

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14 thoughts on “‘Harmful’ ESA benefit sanctions double in one year – who’s at risk and why – Mirror Online

  1. Tony Dean


    However, there is now a significant body of evidence that the WCA is failing to assess people’s fitness
    for work accurately and appropriately, with people who are seriously physically and mentally ill being
    found fit for work and those with acute, transient episodes being assessed as lacking capacity and
    treated in the same way as those with a longer term prognosis. Appeals against the decisions are
    around 50 per cent and approximately half of those appeals are being upheld. The cost to the tax
    payer for this is £50 million alone, with around the same amount being spent on reassessment. The
    DWP is also now under significant pressure to publish data on the number of people who have died
    while claiming out-of-work disability benefits.

  2. Jo Dien

    Nobody is “too ill” for some kind of work, and it is wrong for both the “disabled” person and the country to allow them to languish and get fat on benefits indefinitely. The government has the right idea that 99.9% of these people can and should work, why should the rest of us pay for them to do nothing all day long? If there were no sanctions then millions more lazy people would be also on benefits and bring the country to its knees. And for those very few who really can do nothing all day, why do they need £100 a week if they are so bedridden? How can they smoke and drink and watch telly if they are so very ill and “disabled”? Think about it for a second and you realize that it doesn’t make sense.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Are you insane?
      Your attitude that “nobody is ‘too ill'” suggests you would put someone with a terminal illness into employment, right up to the end of their life. What kind of monster are you?
      Have you ever suffered a debilitating long-term illness or disability? From what you are suggesting, I don’t think you have.
      Your assumption that millions would give up work for the easy life if there were no sanctions speaks more about your own mentality than anybody else’s.
      Look at the way you fall into the usual nonsense clichés, claiming that people must be smoking, drinking and viewing their way through life on the money they are provided – you just don’t understand that benefit payments really don’t buy very much at all.
      Your attitude disgusts me.

    2. Lori Homayon-jones

      Please come spend a day with my challenging (polite term for physically assaults others) autistic seizure prone nappy wearing 21 year old who needs 1 to 1 support and tell me where she can work…of course having ld she doesnt underderstand “work” and no she doesn’t drink smoke and tv is usually restricted to postman pat….but hey why not just go one step further than your rather pathetic little post and go for homelessness or better still euthanasia. Btw sweetie when you get hit with disability can’t wait for your karma moment.

    3. Adam Morgan

      Hmm, “nobody is too ill”, really? What evidence do you have for that statement? “Languish and get fat on benefits”, again where is your evidence for this? “Do nothing all day”, “drink, smoke and telly”, as before where is your evidence for this? Main stream media and the govt propaganda are not sources of evidence here.
      I have CF and firstly I have a Degree in Business Management and Marketing, secondly I worked for 10 years before I had to give up work in order to concentrate on my health. At one point I was in and out of hospital 8 times a year with each admission lasting at least 2 weeks, I’ve got this down to 2-4 admissions per year now due to not working.
      So tell me, as you seem to think you know it all, who would employ me part-time or full-time? Who would want to keep me on when hospital admissions start to increase due to work? Would you like to have my welfare (that I already paid into while working) and all? Here’s the catch, you also have to take my health while I have good health and work.
      You obviously have very little or no understanding of illness, disabilities or health conditions or you just do not care because you are one of the “I’m alright Jacks”.
      You need to do some serious research and stop just believing all the rubbish.

    4. narnianqueen1980

      Wow, such breathtaking ignorance!
      There are several things that are incredibly wrong with your statement.
      1) yes some people are too ill to work. For people with conditions like nerve damage a period of activity is often followed by a period of excruciating pain and fatigue in which they have no choice but to rest. Funnily enough no employers offer work in half hour intervals followed by a rest period.
      2) just because someone is in terrible pain or has dementia doesnt mean they can’t watch tv as a distraction from their painful reality
      3) that money is used to pay for carers, social services provide a bare minimum of care and disabled people then pay for additional help. It also covers costs of travel to doctors and hospitals.
      4) very few people with chronic health problems smoke or drink, they are too sick for that.
      5) many people who are declared unwell enough to work would give anything to have their health back. They have often worked for as long as possible, having at first reduced their hours or taken unskilled work in order to keep earning for as long as they can.
      6) just because you may see someone in the hour they feel well enough to leave the house it doesnt mean you can assume the other 23 hours are the same. If you actually took the time to speak with people with dehabilitating conditions you would realise it’s a difficult balancing act. If they go for a coffee with a friend for an hour, no one sees the next four hours where they are bedridden from exerting the energy.

    5. wildswimmerpete

      @Jo Dien
      No doubt you are one of the Tories with the opinion that those drawing their State pensions should be forced to do “community service” (aka workfare) until they drop. Meanwhile a heart attack or stroke could upturn your comfortable Tory life the very next day – and a devastating stroke could incapacitate you within minutes. A stroke could hit anyone, any age, any gender. YOU could be next.

  3. Felix

    how many of these are actual related to not fulfilling work related activity etc. ? I was talking to a JSA advisor who told me many of the sanctions in the stats are to do with how off-flow operates and are really statistical noise. So for example somebody signs on and off a lot, say they are doing temporary work or whatever. And they dont follow some procedure correctly. They are sanctioned. because they are signed off its not an issue for them and their record is adjusted later. If they want it sorted.. It was something like that anyway.

    But in general if I see articles like this I hope they are taking all this into consideration and doing some journalistic work in trying to discover if there are some exceptions, i.e. make contact with advisors etc.. rather than release articles, get some spin out of it, and wait for the criticism later. Kind of like a scientist would try to discover problems in their own work before somebody else does.

    There is nothing worse than journalism which just looks for conformation to make political spin and does not at least attempt to have a scientific level of process behind it. Its the reason I have given up reading most newspapers. Well just about all of them. Do you know what I mean.. There is absolutely no breakdown here at all. I have copies of the excel spreadsheets which contain all the sanction data, and the picture is way more complicated than just total sanctions.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Part of the problem with a ‘scientific’ approach such as you are advocating is the lack of detailed information the DWP is willing to give up – and the lack of detailed information it is willing to collect as well (regarding the fate of those who’ve been shunted off-benefit).
      We are left to gather information as well as possible from what sources we are able to find. We’re not at fault in doing so – it’s simply the position the public authority has created for us.
      In addition, the problem with your statement, “There is nothing worse than journalism which just looks for conformation [did you mean “confirmation”?] to make political spin” is the fact that anything we use to provide that confirmation is, well, factual.
      People really have been sanctioned for being five minutes late for a meeting due to circumstances beyond their control, for suffering sudden unexpected health crises, for turning up to an interview that had been cancelled and replaced by one earlier in the day – about which the DWP had not seen fit to inform them.
      And you know what?
      ONE such case is too many.

    2. Florence

      One important point is that ESA = unfit to work, but JSA = unemployed. So JSA claims would be expected to “flow” off & back on, with short term contracts.

      With ESA these people have been through grueling WCA testing to make sure there is no way they can work. The ESA WRAG group are simply those who at some time MAY be fit to work, and the Support group is for the long-term claimants, including terminally & chronically & progressively ill, and irreversibly disabled. It is the sanctioning of the WRAG group that is being covered here. This can include people who are undergoing cancer therapy, who have not been diagnosed as terminal (yet), as well as the serious but not fatal injuries, and many with mental health problems. In fact it is the MH group that are being disproportionately sanctioned. It also includes many who have been wrongly denied Support Group status, such as people with Parkinsons & MS.

      I think you will find, if you look, a massive amount of reporting on these issues, including reports of HoC committees, highly respected academic and Charity studies, etc etc. The time has come to move on from skimming the news and then “sending back” to journalists for fact checking. Perhaps if the same number of requests went to the DWP to comply with court rulings to publish their data we may well be better informed, but in the absence does not make other data sources any the less compelling..

  4. Unemployed Peasant

    The Tories certainly are heartless, ruthless b*****ds, yet Labour too continue to support Benefit Sanctions and steadfastly refuse to budge on the issue.

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