To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of sanctioning employment and support allowance claimants on assisting such people into work; and if he will undertake to review the use of sanctions on such claimants.
Sanctions are only used in a minority of cases. For Employment and Support Allowance claimants the proportion of those sanctioned each month on average is 0.6% (based on the last year).
ESA claimants are able to apply for hardship payments from the first day of a sanction. If the application is successful they will receive the payment from day 1 of the sanction.
To keep the sanctions system clear, fair and effective in promoting positive behaviours, we keep the operation of the conditionality and sanction policies and processes under continuous review. Where we identify an issue, we act to put it right.
However, the use of conditionality and sanctions is only part of the story and cannot be seen in isolation to the work we are doing to continually improve the support we offer. The government continues to invest in trials, proofs of concept and feasibility studies to test ways to provide specialist support for people with health conditions, including those with mental health problems, and ensure that we are providing access to the most effective health and employment support when it is needed.
Next steps for longer-term reform will be set out in the autumn in response to the Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper.