Report on effectiveness of benefit sanctions blocked by DWP

Sun,30 January 2022
News Benefits

An evaluation on the effectiveness of benefit sanctions has been blocked by the Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, it has emerged, as fresh Government plans to impose financial penalties on jobless claimants who refuse any job offered to them.

The DWP commissioned its own internal research on the effectiveness of sanctions in 2019 and explicitly promised to make the findings public, in part to settle an ongoing political row over whether sanctions were effective – as ministers insisted they were – in persuading people into work.

Nearly three years later, as the DWP prepares to enforce a fresh wave of sanctions, it has emerged that the Department buried the report and refused requests for it to be released, insisting that the study included “details of a sensitive nature” and it was in the “public interest” to keep the findings under wraps.

However, the DWP has rejected a Freedom of Information request from Glasgow University academic David Webster to release a copy of the report.

Mr Webster said: “It doesn’t look good when the DWP launches a new sanctions policy and does not let the public see the evidence that might help them to judge it.”

He added that he would appeal against the banning decision: “Either the DWP study confirms the existing body of research on sanctions, or it significantly contradicts it; either way, it is highly important from a public policy point of view that it should be released.”

Controversy over the effectiveness of sanctions as Ministers announced they would tighten benefit sanctions as part of a wider “Way to Work” initiative designed to persuade people back into the labour market.

Under Way to Work, claimants will be given just four weeks – down from three months – to find a job within their preferred sector. After that point, part of their universal credit payment will be withdrawn, or “sanctioned”, if they are deemed to have failed to make “reasonable efforts” to secure a job, or turned down a job offer.

But published evidence – including from the Government’s spending watchdog and the DWP’s own advisory committee – shows threatening claimants with the loss of benefits does not incentivise them to take up unsuitable jobs, and instead is likely to make them stressed and ill.

Source and for more information see Report on effectiveness of benefit sanctions blocked by DWP available from

See also Reintroduction of work conditionality and sanctions is an appalling decision that must be reversed, says DR UK.