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Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living

Disability benefit sanctions soar by 30% in a year

Date: 26/8/2015
Summary: Sanctions to people on disability benefits rose by over 30 per cent last year

According to figures from the department for work and pensions, 33,357 sanctions were dished out across the 492,180 people in the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) in Britain in 2014-15.

The WRAG group is the part of ESA intended for people who are too sick to work now, but who could potentially work in the future.

This works out as 6.8 sanctions for every 100 claimants and is 31 per cent higher compared to the rate of 5.2 sanctions per 100 claimants in 2013-14. This is a result of the number of people claiming that type of ESA decreasing at the same time as the number of sanctions being awarded increased.

The astonishing figures come at the end of a rocky month for Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith .

He faced calls for his resignation when it was revealed the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were using made up quotes from people on benefits to put a positive spin on sanctions.

And yesterday he was slammed by disability campaigners and charities over plans to shake up ESA even further.

Sanctions occur when a benefit claimant is deemed to have breached the terms of their benefit agreement and means that their funding is taken away from them until they re-comply.
ESA or employment and support allowance is a benefit awarded to people who have illnesses and disabilities. It has attracted criticism since its introduction because of the way in which people with disabilities are forced to undergo humiliating tests to see if they are fit enough to work.

Those who are deemed fit after their work capability assessment are placed in the work related activity group where they have to attend certain meetings and hit certain work related targets in order to receive and keep receiving support.

Failure to meet these terms will result in a sanction.

The DWP made changes to the ESA sanctions system during the last parliament.

Under the old system, claimants who failed to keep up their end of the bargain were sanctioned until they started fulfilling their obligations again.

The new system is tougher and also punishes people for a fixed time of up to four weeks after they start to re-comply with the terms of the benefit.

Source The Mirror

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