Skip to main content

Committee launch inquiry into benefit sanctions

6 November 2014

The Work and Pensions Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into benefit sanctions policy. This inquiry will consider aspects of sanctions policy which were outside the remit of the Oakley Review (PDF, 566KB).

Terms of reference for the inquiry

Submissions of no more than 3,000 words are invited from interested organisations and individuals.

The Committee is particularly interested in:  

  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions, including: whether the current ESA sanctions regime is appropriate and proportionate for jobseekers with ill health and disabilities; and the reasons for recent sharp increases in the number of ESA sanctions
  • Whether particular groups of ESA and JSA claimants (by impairment type; age; gender etc.) are proportionately more likely to be sanctioned than others
  • To follow up the Committee's recommendation for a full independent review, to investigate the purpose, effects and efficacy of benefit sanctions, and to consider the issues such a review would need to take into account, including
  • What are the current sanctions regimes trying to achieve and what evidence is there that they work?
  • To what extent are sanctions justified solely as a means of ensuring that unemployed benefit claimants fulfil the conditions of benefit entitlement?
  • What evidence is there that benefit sanctions also encourage claimants to engage more actively in job-seeking and ultimately move into employment? How could this be measured?
  • What are the wider implications of sanctions in terms of their impacts on claimants?
  • What are the alternatives to the current sanctions regimes? For example:
  • How might the current system of financial sanctions be altered to make it more appropriate or effective? 
  • Is there a case for non-financial sanctions?
  • What form could non-financial sanctions take? 
  • Are there examples of good practice from other countries?

Submissions do not need to address all of these points.
The deadline for submitting evidence is Friday 12 December.

How to submit your evidence

  • To encourage paperless working and maximise efficiency, select committees are now using a new web portal for online submission of written evidence. The web portal is available on our website.
  • The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.
  • Each submission should be no more than 3,000 words in length, be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible, and have numbered paragraphs
  • If you need to send a paper copy please send it to: The Clerk, Work and Pensions Committee, House of Commons, 1st Floor, 14 Tothill Street, London SW1H 9NB
  • Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to, in which case a web link to the published work should be included.
  • Once submitted, evidence is the property of the Committee. It is the Committee’s decision whether or not to accept a submission as formal written evidence.
  • The Committee normally, though not always, chooses to make public the written evidence it receives, by publishing it on the internet (where it will be searchable), or by making it available through the Parliamentary Archives. If there is any information you believe to be sensitive you should highlight it and explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish or further disclose the evidence.
  • Select Committees are unable to investigate individual cases.
  • Further guidance on submitting evidence to Select Committees (PDF, 2.46MB) is available on the parliamentary website.

Further information