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10 November, 2020 Open access

More than 36,000 universal credit claimants had a sanction deduction during the first full month of the coronavirus lockdown

While new DWP statistics also highlight that the number of claimants subject to deductions has since fallen, more than 12,600 were still having their benefit reduced in August 2020

More than 36,000 universal credit claimants had a sanction deduction during the first full month of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, according to new DWP statistics.

In Benefit sanctions statistics to July 2020 (experimental), the DWP advises that, while changes introduced by SI.No.371/2020 included the suspension of work search and work availability requirements between 30 March 2020 and 30 June 2020, the number of claimants subject to a sanction deduction was still at 36,089 (1.33 per cent of the 2.7 million claimants in conditionality groups where a sanction deduction could be applied) in April 2020.

Plotting the course of sanction deductions through the early months of the pandemic, figures in accompanying data tables show that while the numbers have subsequently reduced (see table 2.1) -

In addition, the new statistics confirm that, in the period covered by the suspension of the work search and work availability requirements between April and June 2020, 28 universal credit sanction decisions were made (see table 1.1). The DWP notes however that these cases may relate to sanction decisions where a claimant had failed to meet their work requirements prior to 30 March 2020 or to certain failures which occurred after this date such as leaving a job voluntarily without good reason or for misconduct.

NB - the statistics also cover sanctions for jobseeker's allowance (JSA) and employment and support allowance (ESA) and confirm that as a proportion of the total claimant count they remain very low - at 0.03 per cent of claimants for JSA and 0.02 per cent for ESA in March 2020 - with no new adverse sanction decisions made in July 2020.

For more information, see Benefit sanctions statistics to July 2020 (experimental) from gov.uk