Man working

Benefit Sanctions - September 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if benefit recipients recomply or provide additional information, their failure to fulfill their obligations can be withdrawn.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 September quarter, it is the sum of all sanction events in July, August and September). 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 September, it is the number of sanctions as at 30 September). Only graduated sanctions can be reported using point-in-time data.

Four-year trend for all sanctions (flow data)

The total number of benefit sanctions imposed due to the failure to fulfill work obligations decreased by 35.5 percent in the September 2018 quarter compared to the September 2017 quarter (Figure 1).

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

Quarterly benefit sanction numbers

The main reason for issuing the sanctions was due to the clients’ failure to attend work appointment/s (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If a benefit recipient recomplies or provides additional information, the failure to fulfill his/her obligation can be withdrawn.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, September 2014 to September 2018

Quarterly benefit sanction reasons

Annual comparison – all sanctions (flow data)

September 2017 quarter

September 2018 quarter

Annual change

Total number of sanctions

14,724 9,504 35.5 percent decrease

Number of sanctions imposed on Jobseeker Support recipients

11,522 8,214 28.7 percent decrease

Number of sanctions imposed on Sole Parent Support recipients

3,068 1,150 62.5 percent decrease

Number of graduated sanctions

12,025 7,571 37.0 percent decrease

Number of suspended/cancelled sanctions

2,699 1,933 28.4 percent decrease

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

As at 30 September 2017

As at 30 September 2018

Annual change

Number of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

2,037 1,437 29.5 percent decrease

Number of benefit recipients with work obligations

197,951 205,922 4.0 percent increase

Percentage of work-tested benefit recipients with graduated sanctions

1.0% 0.7% 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.