People working

Benefit Sanctions - December 2019 quarter

A sanction is issued on a benefit when a client has not fulfilled their work-related obligations (i.e. to look for or find work).

Sanctions can affect benefit recipients in a number of ways depending on their circumstances and the number of times they have had a sanction issued over the last 12 months. There are three types of sanctions: graduated (i.e. percentage reduction in benefit amount), suspended and cancelled. Not everyone who does not meet their commitments get sanctioned. A sanction can be withdrawn when a client re-complies or provides additional information.

Sanctions data is reported in two different ways to show different aspects of the data: flow data and point-in-time data.

Flow data is the sum of all sanction events that occur in the quarter (e.g. during the December quarter, it is the total of all sanction events in October, November and December). This data contains graduated, suspended and cancelled sanctions.

Point-in-time data is the number of sanctions issued at a point in time (e.g. for December, it is the number of sanctions as at end of December. Only graduated sanctions can be reported using point-in-time data.

Five-year trend for all sanctions (flow data)

There were 11,854 benefit sanctions issued during the December 2019 quarter. This was 5,327 fewer (down 31.0 percent) than the December 2014 quarter, but 38.9 percent higher than the December 2018 quarter.

Figure 1 shows the total number of sanctions issued during the last December quarters since 2014, and Figure 2 presents the numbers by reason for the issuance of the benefit sanction.

Benefit sanctions

During the December 2019 quarter, there were 8,211 benefit sanctions issued due to missed work appointments. This was 28.6 percent lower when compared with same period in 2014, and 53.5 percent higher than the December 2018 quarter.

There were 2,361 benefit sanctions issued due to unmet work preparation requirements. This was 38.4 percent lower when compared with the same period in 2014, and 14.6 percent higher than the December 2018 quarter.

There were 1,200 benefit sanctions issued for lack of work participation during the December 2019 quarter. This was 31.7 percent lower when compared with the same period 2014, and 16.2 percent higher than the December 2018 quarter.

Sanctions by reason

Annual comparison – all sanctions (flow data)

December 2018 quarter

December 2019 quarter

Annual change

Total number of sanctions

8,536 11,854 38.9 percent increase

Number of sanctions imposed on Jobseeker Support recipients

7,334 10,917 48.9 percent increase

Number of sanctions imposed on Sole Parent Support recipients

1,060 843 20.5 percent decrease

Number of graduated sanctions

6,963 9,637 38.4 percent increase

Number of suspended/cancelled sanctions

1,573 2,217 40.9 percent increase

Annual comparison – graduated sanctions (point-in-time data)

December 2018

December 2019

Annual change

Number of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

1,232 1,413 14.7 percent increase

Number of benefit recipients with work commitments

212,866 228,079 7.1 percent increase

Percentage of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

0.6% 0.6% No change

Note: A small number of non-work tested benefit recipients may be included in point-in-time data because they had a sanction on a previous benefit but have since transferred to a benefit which is not work-tested.