Employment and Support Allowance

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 8th December 2014.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increased number of claimants of employment and support allowance receiving benefit sanctions since mid-2013.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

The number of ESA claimants referred to the Work Programme has increased by more than half over the last 2 years and as such we would expect to see a consequential increase in sanction referrals as more people join the programme.

ESA claimants are not sanctioned for not finding or taking up work and all activities claimants are referred to must be reasonable given their circumstances and capabilities. In any month less than 1% of ESA claimants are sanctioned.

Evidence suggests that work and work related activity is good for people with health conditions. Through the Work Programme ESA claimants have access to the support they need to improve their skills and move closer to the labour market. With this increased support, comes increased expectations and where claimants fail to meet reasonable requirements, proportionate sanctions are applied.

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