Guardian research contradicts government claims that only a small minority of jobseekers have been affected by increasingly severe welfare policies
The government has significantly understated the impact of its benefit sanctions regime, according to Guardian research that shows one in six of all jobseekers have their payments stopped each year.
The figures contradict official claims that only a small minority of jobseekers have been affected by the government’s increasingly severe welfare policies.
The Guardian’s analysis shows that of those unemployed in the 12 months up to April 2014, 16.7% faced a financial penalty. The figure for the previous year was 14.8%.
This compares to 7.8% in 2009 and 7.7% in 2010 – the last years of the Labour government.
The Guardian’s annualised figures contrast with the government’s stated monthly sanctions rate of 6% – a figure used to back Whitehall claims that sanctions are imposed only as a “last resort” and on a small number of people.
Two formal complaints have been lodged with the UK statistics watchdog in recent weeks, with the government accused of misleading the public over the extent of sanctions and calls for more robust data to be issued.
Last month, the welfare minister, David Freud, refused to give parliament annualised sanction rates, saying that it was too expensive for the Department for Work and Pensions to provide them.
The Green party, which has been seeking publication of the figures, said: “The DWP clearly has something to hide. It has misrepresented its figures to cover up the full extent of its pernicious sanctions regime.