From the TUC

Saving Our Safety Net Fact of the Week: two-fifths of JSA sanctions hit young people

31 Oct 2014, by in Society & Welfare

Ever since the recession broke out the number of Jobseekeer’s Allowance claimants has been rising and there is growing evidence that young people are being hit disproportionately.

According to the latest official statistics, for Oct 2013 – Mar 2014, 760,115 JSA claimants had a sanction applied to them (some or all of their benefits stopped) or their claim disallowed. 300,000 – 39.5 per cent – were under 25. Earlier this year, an investigation by the Independent found that, at that point, 42 per cent of all sanctions were imposed on under-25s even though they only accounted for 27 per cent of Jobseekeer’s Allowance claimants.

Young people seem to have been especially hard hit by tougher sanctions introduced in 2012, which mean that people who don’t comply with JSA rules can lose their benefit for up to 3 years. Signed on and Sanctioned, a report by YMCA England found that 94 per cent of YMCAs said there had been an increase in the number of young people they worked with who had been sanctioned and 61% said that there had been a “significant” increase. Of the young people who had been sanctioned, 86 per cent had been forced to go without essential items, including food (84 per cent). Other vulnerable groups are being hit hard too – a review for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that lone parents, disabled people, homeless people, people with limited English and members of some ethnic groups were disproportionately likely to be sanctioned.

The number of sanctions and disallowed claims has been rising since the start of the recession and picked up pace after the current government was elected in 2012:

Sanctions 1 v1

David Webster, knows more about sanctions than anyone else in the universe, points out that, as a proportion of claimants,

JSA sanctions appear to have stabilised at the unprecedentedly high levels of over 7% per month before reconsiderations and appeals, and over 6% per month after reconsiderations and appeals

In the year to the end of March, there were over 900,000 JSA sanctionsthe highest since JSA was introduced in 1996” and 400,000 higher than in the year to 30 April 2010 (i.e., the end of the last government’s time in office). (*)

All in all, young people are at the sharp end of the Government’s policies. At this year’s Conservative Party conference the Chancellor announced post-election plans to end under-21s’ rights to JSA after 6 months of unemployment while the Prime Minister emphasised plans to take away their Housing Benefit. Young people have been hit by the abolition of Educational Maintenance Allowances, the increase in tuition fees and the evisceration of the Connexions service – among other cuts.

That is why the unions have made November Young Workers Month. The TUC and individual unions will be holding campaign events throughout the month, picking up on issues like low pay, rents and unemployment.

Follow @TUCYoungWorkers for official information and live updates about Young Workers’ Month. If you’re tweeting about YWM use hashtag #YWM14 so we can retweet your messages. 



(*) It’s a bit off the subject of this post, but I’m very struck by David’s comment on the Work Programme and JSA sanctions:

The Work Programme continues to deliver far more JSA sanctions than JSA job outcomes. Up to 31 March 2014 there had been 280,140 JSA Work Programme job outcomes and 503,220 JSA Work Programme sanctions.

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