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This report looks at the application of sanctions in the UK social security system. Sanctions are defined as the reduction or withdrawal of benefits from claimants on the grounds that they have failed to observe the conditions attached to their benefit claim. Whilst successive Governments have increased use of sanctions in the system, the current Government has expanded conditionality criteria and increased the length of sanctions since October 2012.  This was to align non-compliance of conditionality more to changes under Universal Credit, and to make conditions for receipt of benefit clearer.

This report finds that there is no evidence that increased use of sanctions in Jobcentre Plus districts between October 2012 and June 2014 led to decreased unemployment or increased employment. It therefore seems that sanctions are not supporting the Government’s aim of reducing unemployment.

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