Man working

Benefit Sanctions - December 2018 quarter

A sanction is a penalty imposed on a person’s benefit for failure to fulfill their work obligations.

Sanctions can affect benefit recipients in a number of ways depending on their circumstances and the number of times they have had a sanction imposed 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 fails their obligations gets sanctioned; if benefit recipients recomply or provide additional information, their failure to fulfill their obligations can be withdrawn.

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. for the December quarter, it is the sum of all sanction events in October, November, and December). This data contains graduated, suspended and cancelled sanctions imposed due to the failure to fulfill work obligations.

Point-in-time data is the number of sanctions imposed at a point in time due to the failure to fulfill work obligations (e.g. for December, it is the number of sanctions as at 31 December). Only graduated sanctions can be reported using point-in-time data.

Four-year trend for all sanctions (flow data)

The quarterly number of benefit sanctions imposed due to the failure to fulfill work obligations was the lowest number since December 2014, or from 17,181 sanctions issued in the December 2014 to 8,536 in the December 2018 quarter (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Quarterly benefit sanctions numbers, December 2014 to December 2018

Quarterly benefit sanction numbers

The number of sanctions issued in the December 2018 quarter for failing to attend arranged appointment(s) was down by 4,180 (43.9 percent decrease) compared to the December 2017 quarter. The number of sanctions issued because of failing to participate in work decreased by 686 (39.9 percent decrease), and the number of sanctions issued due to the clients’ failure to prepare for work was also down by 1,351, or 39.6 percent decrease (Figure 2).

Note that not everyone who fails their obligations gets penalised. If a benefit recipient recomplies or provides additional information, the failure to fulfill his/her obligation can be withdrawn.

Figure 2: Quarterly benefit sanctions reasons, December 2014 to December 2018

Quarterly benefit sanction reasons

Annual comparison – all sanctions (flow data)

December 2017 quarter

December 2018 quarter

Annual change

Total number of sanctions

14,778 8,536 42.2 percent decrease

Number of sanctions imposed on Jobseeker Support recipients

11,889 7,334 38.3 percent decrease

Number of sanctions imposed on Sole Parent Support recipients

2,756 1,060 61.5 percent decrease

Number of graduated sanctions

12,049 6,963 42.2 percent decrease

Number of suspended/cancelled sanctions

2,729 1,573 42.4 percent decrease

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

As at end December 2017

As at end December 2018

Annual change

Number of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

1,806 1,232 31.8 percent decrease

Number of benefit recipients with work obligations

201,874 212,866 5.4 percent increase

Percentage of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

0.9% 0.6% 0.3 percentage point decrease

Note 1: 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.