Benefit Sanctions Blog 1 : Introducing “Benefit Sanctions Is There Another Way? “

Please note that NEHTT is a third party partner and not part of Youth Homeless North East

Sanctions Gimp Source file1

‘Sanctions: There Must Be An Alternative Way?’

NEHTT have been funded by the Northern Rock Foundation to conduct research to:

      Develop a robust understanding of the administration and impact of benefit sanctions in relation to vulnerable people in the North East, and develop an alternative vision for the benefits system which both supports people into work and prevents homelessness.

The research project commenced in January this year and will be completed by the end of July 2015.

Why we are conducting the research

Over the past 18 months, NEHTT members, collectively and individually, have been engaged in several programmes of work looking at the impacts of welfare reform. One of the single biggest issues arising from this is benefit sanctions. The number of sanctions being applied has increased significantly under the new welfare regime, with a disproportionate affect on vulnerable groups, such as homeless people, young people and offenders. For many, sanctions are increasing the risk of homelessness, and resulting in people being trapped in homelessness for longer periods of time. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that they are impacting on physical and emotional wellbeing through food and fuel poverty and increased household stress, as well as levels of crime and illegal money lending. These findings sit alongside a number of other studies which have discussed the administration, claimants’ understanding and the impacts, of benefit sanctions. However, a robust picture of the scale and impacts of this in the North East (and nationally) is yet to be established.


We aim to establish a detailed quantitative picture of the scale and nature of sanctioning activity in the North East and how levels of sanctioning vary across localities in the region. Information gathered will include:

the number of people being sanctioned each month in the North East;

the length of sanctions being applied;

the number of claimants that ‘drop off’ the register following being sanctioned;

levels of Housing Benefit payment following sanctioning;

the number of people who apply for Hardship Loans following sanctioning;

how many people have gone on to enter employment following sanctioning.

A regional survey of local authorities, housing and homelessness providers, police forces, probation services, food banks and related agencies will be conducted; to identify how many of those affected by benefit sanctions in the North East would be classed as ‘vulnerable’, what data on sanctions is recorded by statutory and voluntary organisations and the key impacts of the sanctioning of vulnerable people.

A small number of stakeholder interviews with key contacts from DWP/JCP and a range of statutory and voluntary services will be undertaken.

A series of informal workshops will be held with a range of vulnerable client groups across the region, including rough sleepers, clients living in supported accommodation and young people.

What we will produce

A participatory video, led by homeless participants from across the region, which highlights the outcomes and impacts of benefit sanctions on their life-courses, followed by their vision for a more progressive welfare system.

A short, hard-copy leaflet which summarises the key quantitative and qualitative findings of the project.

A project blog, which documents project progress, acts as a repository of relevant information and showcases the project outputs.

To follow the progress of the project please link into the blog, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @NEhomelessTT

Access information on NEHTT and associated research on welfare reform.

For information about the research, please contact: Sharon Brown, Project Lead for the research


January 2015 – 31st July 2015.

Literature review and quantiative mapping exercise January to March

Regional survey April

Stakeholder interviews April to May

Participant workshops March to May

Data analysis and production of outputs May Dissemination June to July



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