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Response to DWP announcement on sanctions

Responding to the DWP announcement that some people could face sanctions four weeks after their first Universal Credit claim, CAS Social Justice Policy Officer David Scott said:

“These proposals would suggest that some people could have their Universal Credit reduced before they receive their first payment. There is already extensive evidence suggesting the level of Universal Credit is not enough to cover people’s living costs and can lead to a cycle of debt. Reducing payments further would only create more problems.

“When a person is sanctioned, the costs in supporting them are pushed onto local authorities, healthcare providers, food banks, and homelessness services. More than that, a person who cannot afford energy or food will be unable to search for work effectively. Sanctions are bad for our economy and bad for encouraging people into work.

“While sanctions were rightly paused at the start of the pandemic, numbers have been increasing rapidly in recent months. Sanctions advice across the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has shown a 20 per cent increase from March to December 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and the DWP’s own figures show that the number of people searching for work who were sanctioned increased almost five times over in August 2021 compared to June 2021. Imposing new measures that tighten the work search conditions will only make these figures worse.”