Thank you for contacting me about benefit sanctions.
The Government is committed to delivering a welfare system that encourages and supports people into work, while providing a vital safety net for the most vulnerable.
As you note, the Chancellor recently announced that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will review the sanctions regime to ensure that benefit claimants are moving into work. This review stands alongside measures outlined at the Spring Budget 2023, which included automating parts of the sanctions regime and ensuring that DWP Work Coaches have the tools and training to implement sanctions as effectively as possible.
While I note your concerns about these announcements, sanctions underpin the work-related activities a claimant will have to do in order to get full entitlement to Universal Credit (also known as "conditionality") and are a key part of a fair and effective welfare system. It is right that the welfare system encourages claimants to take reasonable steps to prepare for and move into work.
Sanctions on Universal Credit only apply if claimants fail to meet their agreed requirements without good reason. If information amounting to a good reason comes to light after a sanction has been applied, the sanction can be overturned and the money repaid via mandatory reconsideration.
The DWP has a well-established system of hardship payments, available as a safeguard if a claimant demonstrates that they cannot meet their immediate and most essential needs because of a sanction.