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Incapacity Benefit

Volume 506: debated on Thursday 4 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of sanctions that have been imposed on existing claimants of incapacity benefit; and what the most common reasons are for the imposition of sanctions on claimants. (319021)

[holding answer 26 February 2010]: The purpose of sanctions is to encourage compliance with the requirement to take part in work-focused interviews. The only reason for imposing sanctions on claimants is if they fail to take part in a work-focused interview, without good cause.

From the assessments which the Department has made of the effectiveness of the sanctions regime, as part of the extension to existing customers in Jobcentre Plus-led Pathways districts over 2005-06, it is clear the use of sanctions had a positive impact on attendance at work-focused interviews. However, customer views on the appropriateness of the use of sanctions were mixed.

The Department has published two research reports on the experiences of existing customers and these include a discussion regarding sanctions:

Pathways to Work: Extension to some existing customers: Early findings from qualitative research, Policy Studies Institute, Department for Work and Pensions report no. 323, 2006,

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2005-2006/rrep323.pdf

Pathways to Work: Extension to existing customers (matched case study), National Centre for Social Research, Department for Work and Pensions report no. 418, 2007,

http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2007-2008/rrep418.pdf

Copies of both reports have been placed in the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants of incapacity benefit were sanctioned in each of the last 10 years; and what the monetary value was of sanctions imposed in each of those years. (319022)

[holding answer 26 February 2010]: The Department does not publish data on the number of people who have been sanctioned who claim incapacity benefit; such data could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The same is true for those customers in receipt of employment and support allowance and income support.