Single parents and benefits sanctions

Published on 14 November 2014


A review of benefit sanctions policymaking, looking at the evidence base on outcomes as a result of benefit conditions and sanctions and the latest government data. The report finds single parents are more likely to get a referral overturned than other claimants. A snapshot of recent calls to Gingerbread’s helpline illustrates how poor quality decisions by jobcentre advisers mean many single parents are wrongly threatened with sanctions.

Key findings

  • Two in five (41 per cent) sanction referrals against single parents are overturned (found ‘non-adverse’), compared with 32 per cent of referrals against other claimants
  • The government’s own research finds limited evidence that sanctions help people to move into work
  • We argue that the benefit sanctions regime is broken – precious time and resources are being spent on sanctions at the expense of supporting people back into work
  • Single parents may be even more at risk under universal credit, where rules designed to protect parents from wrongful sanctions are downgraded from regulations to ‘guidance’
  • Gingerbread wants to see the government improve jobcentre adviser training and strengthen protections by moving them back into regulations.