MPs have announced they will launch a major new inquiry into “deeply troubling” problems with the benefit sanctions system.
The Commons Work and Pensions Committee will probe the system that has stopped people’s benefits more than 7 million times since 2000.
Sanctions can be imposed for breaching benefit conditions like attending a work placement, or for being minutes late for a Jobcentre appointment.
There have been reports of poor practice in the system, such as people in hospital being sanctioned for missing a benefits appointment.
While most sanctions go to jobseekers, thousands also go to sick and disabled people on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
In June 2017 just over 1,400 people on ESA were sanctioned, the highest monthly figure for more than two years.
Sanctions are also on the rise under Universal Credit because the new six-in-one benefit is being rolled out to more people.
In March 2017 15,000 UC claimants were sanctioned – 1,300 of them for more than 14 weeks at a time.