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23 February, 2021 Open access

Fewer than 5,000 universal credit claimants had a sanction deduction in November 2020

New sanction statistics also show that fewer than 200 new adverse sanction decisions were made in the three months to October 2020

Fewer than 5,000 universal credit claimants had a sanction deduction in November 2020, according to new DWP statistics.

In Benefit sanctions statistics to October 2020 (experimental), the DWP highlights that since the general reintroduction of conditionality - after its suspension from 30 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown - the proportion of universal credit claimants who were subject to conditionality and to a sanction deduction dropped to 0.13 per cent in November 2020 (4,628 claimants out of the 3.53 million who were subject to conditionality).

NB - while conditionality was reintroduced from 1 July 2020 for universal credit on a phased approach (3 August 2020 for new-style and legacy jobseeker's allowance (JSA)), claimants can only receive sanctions for failure to meet commitments once they have a new or updated tailored claimant commitment in place.

The DWP also indicates how the pandemic resulted in an initial rapid reduction of the universal credit sanction rate, from its pre-Covid rate of around 2 per cent, which has continued to drop further in subsequent months -

Experimental rate of universal credit claimants receiving less benefit due to a sanction

Elsewhere, the statistics show that there were just 170 original adverse sanction decisions for universal credit in the quarter to October 2020 compared to a total of 80,460 for the 12 month period to October 2020. Of these, 91 per cent were applied for the reason that the claimant had either failed to attend or participate in a work-focused interview.

Finally, while the statistics provide details of sanctions in relation to JSA and employment and support allowance work-related activity group (ESA), these remain at negligible rates for both groups, with 0.01 per cent subject to a deduction in June 2020.

For more information, see Benefit sanctions statistics to October 2020 (experimental) from