A Million Disabled People Sanctioned Since 2010

A four-year study by University of Kent lecturer Ben Baumberg Geiger & the Demos cross party think tank, has found that disabled claimants receiving Job Seekers Allowance, (JSA), were 26-53% more likely to be sanctioned than claimants who were not.In just ten years they found that; disabled people have been hit with OVER 1 million sanctions.

The comprehensive study, (which you can see here), into the treatment of unemployed disabled claimants has revealed that; they are up to 53% more likely to be sanctioned, than claimants who are not disabled.
Sanctions as I explained in a previous blog post are given as a punishment when claimants allegedly breach the conditions of the benefit they are on. eg. Late for an appointment.

Culture of Disbelief

Polly Mackenzie, director of Demos, said “Conditionality is important in any benefits system, but when disabled people are so much more likely to be sanctioned, something is going wrong. Jobcentre advisers and capability assessors too often have a culture of disbelief about disability, especially mental illness, that leads them to sanction claimants who genuinely could not do the job they are being bullied into applying for.

We need to think again about how we assess work capability. Employers also need to be better at adapting to disabled people’s needs so that more jobs can be done by people with fluctuating conditions.”

In 2016 the National Audit Office found that there was no evidence that sanctions were working.

The governments refusal to accept this is, in my humble opinion, evidence of wilful neglect. They have repeatedly been told that the system needs to change but have steamrolled ahead regardless. At some point they will have to do something.

Conditionality is not easy to implement

So at the end of this, what do we know? In his (open access) review paper, on which the article is based, Ben Baumberg Geiger summarises the evidence into four ‘stylised facts’:

  1. Requirements for disability benefit claimants are common, but sanctioning is rare (particularly outside of the UK and Australia).
  2. Assessment and support are critical in making conditionality work on the ground, and can be combined into ‘passive’, ‘supportive’, ‘demanding’ or ‘compliance-based’ systems.
  3. The limited but robust existing evidence suggests that sanctioning may have zero or even negative impacts on work-related outcomes for disabled people.
  4. Individual case studies in ‘compliance-based’ systems suggest that sanctioning in the absence of other support can lead to destitution, and that conditionality can harm mental health.

“While we need to know more, it is already clear that we cannot assume that conditionality for disabled benefit claimants is easy to implement, nor that it will have purely positive consequences. Policy may have run ahead, but research is now starting to catch up. It is crucial for the well being of disabled people around the world that deeper knowledge and more informed policy go hand-in-hand from this point.”

In summary it is now beyond any reasonable doubt that sanctions on any type of benefit don’t work. They instil a culture of fear which is leading to further stress on both claimants and the system.

The opposition parties, in-fact all MPs, need to lobby, harass and force the government into to scrapping the controversial use of sanctions. The go against the basic human right of dignity.

I’ll be writing more about work capability assessments soon and hope to shed a light on the target led culture that is attempting to force disabled and vulnerable people into work, against the advice of doctors.

Hope you’ve found this article helpful and I look forward to the comments.



Don’t forget the #FoodBankChallenge is always going and the uptake has been rapid within the last few days. Don’t forget to nominate a mate to do it too.

If you want to donate to my project to keep raising awareness you can below if you so wish.