On the rise: single parent sanctions in numbers

Published on 9 April 2017


The government maintains benefit sanctions are only used as a last resort for a very small minority of claimants. This briefing illustrates how the DWP understates Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) sanction rates, how the risk of JSA sanctions has increased in recent years and how single parents continue to be disproportionately at risk of unfair sanctions.

Gingerbread is particularly concerned about benefit sanction decision-making in jobcentres, particularly government reforms under universal credit which will expand ‘conditionality’– meaning many more single parents will be at risk of unfair benefit sanctions.

Key findings

  • Benefit sanctions are a significant part of the benefit system, and cannot be dismissed as a minor element – at a recent peak, around one in seven single parents claiming JSA were sanctioned
  • Single parents are still at particular risk of unfair sanctions – 62 per cent of formal challenges to single parent sanctions were successful, compared with 53 per cent of challenges to other sanctions
  • Since rules were changed in October 2012, sanctions have stopped around £40 million in JSA payments to single parents – or around £31 million once hardship payments are taken into account.