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Sanctions and single parents

Benefit sanctions have come under increasing scrutiny since rule changes in October 2012. Further reforms under universal credit are now on the horizon, which will mean more single parents subject to conditions to receive benefits – and at risk of sanctions. It’s therefore a good time to take stock and look at how these families are currently affected.

And with welfare cuts and child poverty forecast to dramatically increase, it’s more important than ever that single parent families aren’t unfairly penalised by the benefit system, and receive effective employment support.

About the project

This project is looking at the impact of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) sanctions on single parent families, particularly:

  • How the risk of sanctions differs between single parents and other JSA claimants
  • How benefit conditions (‘conditionality’) are applied to single parent families
  • The impact of being referred for a sanction, or having a sanction imposed – for single parents and their wider family.

We are interested in sanction decision-making from both single parents’ and employment support providers’ perspectives. The findings will be used to develop policy and practice recommendations to help ensure conditionality is both fair and effective.

Latest content

On the rise: Single parent sanctions in numbers

April 2017

We looked at the data the government publishes on single parent sanctions: we found single parents are much more likely to be sanctioned than previously, and more likely to be sanctioned unfairly than other claimants. Since the new 2012 rules came in, sanctions have stopped around £40 million of JSA payments to single parents (before taking hardship payments and overturned sanctions into account).

To find out more, read our press releasekey findings and full report.

Other coverage:

Scrutiny of benefit sanctions mustn’t end here

December 2016

Blog: Our researcher on why the government needs to ask more questions of its sanctions policy.

Related work


If you have any questions about this research, contact our Research Officer:  sumi.rabindrakumar[at]