The impact of DWP benefit sanctions on anxiety and depression – British Politics and Policy at LSE

Evan Williams presents evidence showing that benefit sanctions lead to increases in claimants’ anxiety and depression, and argues that a re-assessment of the role of sanctions is needed as the UK slowly emerges from lockdown.

In response to enduring high unemployment after the 2008 financial crisis, the Coalition Government (2010-15) relied on a ‘massive campaign of sanctions‘ to reduce benefit rolls. This response paid scant regard to the actual availability of jobs in the economy and is unlikely to be effective in lowering unemployment in the current context, where the number of people claiming Universal Credit has dramatically increased in the wake of COVID-19. While work search and work availability requirements for claimants – and their enforcement with benefit sanctions – were suspended for three months in March 2020, the jury is out on whether this leniency will continue as the lockdown restrictions are being lifted. What the jury is also out on is whether any lessons have been learnt from recent developments in sanctions policy.

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