Benefit sanctions policy beyond the Oakley review

Inquiry status: concluded

Benefit sanctions involve the suspension of benefit payments for a set period, where claimants fail to meet certain conditions, such as attendance at Jobcentre appointments or participation in mandatory work schemes. The sanctions regimes for both Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) were strengthened by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 (external site).

Matthew Oakley conducted an independent review of JSA sanctions in relation to mandatory back to work schemes (i.e. principally sanctions affecting JSA claimants participating in the Work Programme). The Oakley Review (PDF 566KB) was limited; this inquiry is broader. It considers ESA sanctions, including whether the current ESA regime is appropriate and proportionate for jobseekers with ill health and disabilities. It also considers whether the JSA and ESA regimes are achieving their policy intentions; the wider impacts on claimants; and possible alternatives.

Submissions should address the terms of reference issued by the Committee.



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Related information

The Oakley Review (2014)


The Oakley Review (PDF 566KB) was limited to consideration of the clarity of DWP’s, and contracted providers’, communication with claimants, and claimants’ understanding of the sanctioning process, including their options in relation to reviews of sanction decisions, appeals and the availability of hardship payments.

Matthew Oakley is an economist, who has worked at Policy Exchange and HM Treasury. He is currently head of economic analysis at Which?

External links

The following links include information relating to benefit sanctions:

Press release from February 2014 with current figures

Legislation enacting benefit sanctions, October 2012

Work and Pensions Committee report from January 2014