DWP Universal Credit sanctions increase to 50,000 a month with ‘extremely worrying’ increase

To exclude, to expel:

The number of sanctions increased from a few thousand a month to 50,000 – a similar rate to pre-pandemic – after the DWP brought back in-person Job Center appointments. And the worst may yet to come

Many Britons are being punished for their rights as the country comes out of lockdown (file image)
Many Britons are being punished for their rights as the country comes out of lockdown (file image)

The number of entitlement sanctions imposed against Universal Credit claimants has skyrocketed, growing 11-fold in just five months.

The staggering increase comes as millions have been affected by the rising cost of living, with energy bills, National Insurance and inflation all rising this Spring while benefits rose by just 3.1 %.

Sanctions were suspended during the first Covid lockdown and remained low at first after being restored in summer 2020.

But they have skyrocketed since the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reinstated in-person Job Center appointments last April, with those who miss a work session having their benefits cut or stopped. grant.

Quantily General Credit claimants with the sanction increased from 4,274 in June 2021 to 49,944 in November 2021, the most recent month available.

  • Scroll down to see the full figures and join the debate in the comments section. Have you received an unjust punishment? Let us know on

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey is overseeing an increase in sanctions in the coming months


NurPhoto / PA images)

The total number of people sanctioned for the whole month will be higher than the official figure, as they are taken on a specific day each month.

The data also excludes Universal Credit claimants who don’t fall under the ‘conditional’ category, such as the severely disabled.

And Tory ministers are now putting in place even stricter rules, with claimants facing a penalty after four weeks if they turn down a job outside of their chosen field, which could push sanctions even higher.

Anti-austerity activist Charlotte Hughes warned it was “extremely worrying as we face a huge cost-of-living crisis that has driven up food and energy prices”.

She added: “Sanctions are a cruel and unnecessary tool to be used against people who are already poor and are living in poverty.

“Senior sanctions ensure a person or family is dragged further into poverty, leaving them with a choice about whether they can eat or fill them during the period of punishment.

“Sanction claimants create a never-ending cycle of poverty and discourage anyone from looking for more work.”

Dr David Webster of the University of Glasgow, who has studied the effects of sanctions for many years, said: “The effects of a sanctions measure often last for a long time.

“If it causes a crisis in the family, or if it leads to someone being kicked out of the house, the consequences are quite long-lasting.

“Sanctions put people in more debt, because obviously people can’t stop spending money altogether – they have to find something to eat, etc.

“They have to keep spending money, so if the money doesn’t come, they’ll have to borrow and they’ll be in debt.

“It has a bad effect on their mental health, because there is always anxiety and stress. And for a small number of people, there is clearly the question of possible deportation. “

DWP figures this week show 2.37% of claimants have already suffered a penalty, a rate similar to pre-pandemic


ANDY RAIN / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)

The dramatic increase comes even as the total number of people claiming General Credit has fallen as the economy reopens.

DWP figures this week show 2.37% of claimants were sanctioned in November, a similar rate to pre-pandemic. This is up from 1.89% in October and 1.2% in September.

“If you look at the trend, there’s really almost no slack in that percentage increase – it’s pointing upwards,” said Dr. Webster.

DWP’s recently announced Way to Work program will soon force claimants to find work outside of their chosen field in just four weeks with Universal Credit.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Given the record number of jobs available, it is right to encourage those who can work to take up the right roles through our Way to Work programme. In addition to being good for mental health, people get full-time employment of at least £6,000 more than allowance.

“People are only sanctioned if they don’t meet the conditions they’ve agreed to, without good reason, and the latest data shows that sanctions rates remain below pre-pandemic levels.”

Penalties by month

Pictured is the number of people using the entire Universal Credit service sanctioned on the second Thursday of each month.

  • November 2021: 49,944 (2.37%)
  • October 2021: 41,106 (1.89%)
  • September 2021: 26,782 (1.2%)
  • August 2021: 18,114 (0.78%)
  • July 2021: 8,758 (0.37%)
  • June 2021: 4,274 (0.18%)
  • May 2021: 3,834 (0.15%)
  • April 2021: 3,835 (0.14%) …..
  • February 2020: 31,132 (2.36%)
  • January 2020: 32,907 (2.63%)
  • December 2019: 34,473 (2.8%)

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Read more DWP Universal Credit sanctions increase to 50,000 a month with 'extremely worrying' increase

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