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Social Security Benefits: Offenders

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many written warnings have been issued to benefit claimants in (a) pilot and (b) other areas on sanctions in relation to refusal to engage in a rehabilitation programme in respect of anti-social behaviour or criminal behaviour under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 as amended by the Welform Reform Act 2007 in each month since November 2007; in how many cases benefit sanctions have been applied; what assessment he has made of progress in the pilot areas against the objectives of the pilot scheme; and if he will make a statement. (254031)

Although the pilots for the sanction in housing benefit related to anti-social behaviour have been running since 1 November 2007, none of the eight local authorities has issued a written warning under section 130B of the Contributions and Benefits Act.

The courts for the pilot areas have notified the department of only five repossessions on the grounds of anti social behaviour. There are no data for other areas. Research conducted so far has concluded that, although the sanction has been publicised and used in routine warning letters to tenants engaged in anti-social behaviour, the general view is that the impact of a warning of a sanction at an early stage is limited and the threat of eviction is taken more seriously. However, the pilots have 10 more months to run and we will continue to research the deterrent effect of the sanction and the impact of any sanctions administered during that period.