More than 1,000 job seekers in the East Riding of Yorkshire have had their benefits stopped or reduced for up to three years, figures reveal, after the Government announced it is scrapping lengthy sanctions.
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has announced that she is ending three-year benefit sanctions, which she said failed to help people into work.
Sanctions will now be capped at a maximum of six months.
Anti-poverty charities have welcomed the decision to scrap the harshest penalties, but urged the Government to make further reforms to end all punitive sanctions, which they said could leave people “hungry, in debt, and on the brink of homelessness”.
Department for Work and Pensions data shows 1,080 high-level sanctions were imposed on people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in the East Riding of Yorkshire between October 2012 – when the current sanctions system was introduced – and January 2019.
JSA claimants can be sanctioned for a variety of reasons, such as being late for appointments, not doing enough to look for work, or failing to attend a training programme.
High-level sanctions are the harshest penalties, and last for a period of three months, six months, or three years, depending on the severity of the claimant’s infraction and how many times they have been sanctioned previously.
In total, 8,137 sanctions have been imposed on claimants in the East Riding.
Anna Stevenson, welfare benefits specialist at the anti-poverty charity Turn2us, said she welcomed the news that sanctions would be capped, but called for further action.
A spokeswoman for the DWP said sanctions are necessary for the integrity of the system, and are only used when people don’t fulfil their commitments to look for work. “Financial sanctions become much less valuable over time and undermine our aim to help people into employment,” she continued.