One in 10 Bradford Universal Credit claimants get sanctioned while looking for work
ONE in 10 Universal Credit claimants searching for work have been sanctioned in Bradford, new research shows.
The figures come as a think tank calls on the Government to pause benefit sanctions until inflation is brought under control.
Analysis of Home Office data by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a think tank, shows 20,803 people receiving Universal Credit in Bradford were deemed to be 'looking for work' as of November – 1,934 (9.3 per cent) of which had been sanctioned.
But a Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson has said people are most often sanctioned due to missing Jobcentre appointments.
Across the country, around 100,000 people have had their Universal Credit payments cut.
For those classed as searching for work, more than one in 13 had been sanctioned – double the rate before the pandemic.
Henry Parkes, senior economist at the IPPR, said: “Sanction rates are climbing rapidly, and it seems your chances of being sanctioned are largely down to the temperament of your local Jobcentre.
"We already know that sanctions can push people into destitution, so as the cost-of-living crisis continues it is urgent that the government pauses, rather than expands, its sanctions regimejob.
The rate varies between local areas – ranging from 2.9 per cent of recipients in Broadland, Norfolk, to 13 per cent in Knowsley in Merseyside.
The figures show people in the North of England are far more likely to face benefit sanctions – with the North East (9.2 per cent), North West (9 per cent) and Yorkshire and the Humber (8.8 per cent) topping the list of worst-impacted regions.
The IPPR would like to see benefit sanctions halted during the cost-of-living crisis.
“To press ahead instead with even tougher sanctions when the existing system is already something of a postcode lottery, and when everyone is struggling with rising living costs, would be both foolish and unfair,” Mr Parkes added.
In the spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the sanctions regime is to be "strengthened", particularly for those failing to look for work.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Our priority is to help people find and move into work and the latest figures show an overwhelming amount - 97.6 per cent - of sanctions are applied simply due to claimants failing to attend mandatory appointments, not for failing to undertake work search requirements.
“Sanctions can often quickly be resolved by the claimant re-engaging with the Jobcentre and attending the next appointment.”