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Benefit sanctions

We’re campaigning to end benefit sanctions because of their harsh effects on people’s mental health. We are pushing the government and MPs to make a change, but we need your help to keep up the pressure. Our campaign will be running over the next few months and you’ll find the most up to date activity on this page.

We’re campaigning to end benefit sanctions because of their harsh effects on people’s mental health. We are pushing the government and MPs to make a change, but we need your help to keep up the pressure.

Our campaign will be running over the next few months and you’ll find the most up to date activity on this page.

What are benefit sanctions?

If a person fails to adhere to the Jobcentre conditions, their benefits will be cut. For example, missing an appointment with their work coach or failing to search for jobs for the required number of hours will mean they face benefit sanctions.

We are campaigning to end benefit sanctions because they:

  • harm people’s mental health and wellbeing
  • don’t help people get back into work
  • are expensive to implement.

How is this relevant to UKCP?

  • In our 2016 membership survey, 75 per cent of members wanted us to influence national policy.
  • 50 per cent of members wanted us to specifically address the ‘societal causes’ of mental health problems.

The link between mental health and sanctions

Vulnerable people are having their mental health compromised by a harsh government policy.

Research from the National Audit Office (NAO) and the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee has found that sanctions have increased in severity, having serious consequences on people’s mental health.

What have we done so far?

  • We wrote an open letter featured in the Independent calling for benefit sanctions to be suspended.
  • We are currently conducting extensive research on the link between mental health and benefit sanctions.
  • We’re working with MPs to try and find the best solution.
  • We have pressured the government by submitting several pieces of evidence to the Department of Work and Pensions select committee inquiries and to their consultations.

Were benefit sanctions always like this?
No, sanctions weren’t always like this. Prior to the 2000s, sanctions were much less severe, and conditionality for benefits was judged on a case by case basis. The Coalition Government introduced longer periods of sanctioning in advance of the introduction of Universal Credit (UC). This extended work-related conditions to previously exempt groups e.g. carers and the disabled, as well as requiring claimants to search for jobs for 35 hours a week.