Welfare sanctions and homelessness

Published: 2nd Nov 2016

In brief


One in five claimants that have been sanctioned became homeless as a result of it, according to one study.


This is missing an important caveat. Researchers found that one fifth of people surveyed who had used homelessness services had lost their home because of sanctions. The proportion of all people who are sanctioned who become homeless is probably smaller.

“Mr Speaker, according to Sheffield Hallam University study, one in five claimants that have been sanctioned became homeless as a result of it.”

Jeremy Corbyn, 2 November 2016

This is missing an important caveat.

The study that Jeremy Corbyn is referring to only looked at people who were using homelessness services. The proportion of people who lose their job after being sanctioned is likely to be smaller than this—even though the report he’s referring to does suggest a link between welfare sanctions and becoming homeless.

What are sanctions?

People are offered welfare payments on certain conditions, such as spending a certain amount of time looking for a job. They can be sanctioned with a reduction in their payments if they don’t comply. Payments can also be stopped altogether. Sanctions have been more widely used in recent years, especially since 2012.

What did the survey say?

The report he’s referring to interviewed 548 people using homelessness services who were receiving welfare between February and April 2015. It found that 213 of them had been sanctioned in the previous year, so about 39%.

About half of the people who had been sanctioned said that it made it harder to keep their home.

45 said they lost their home as a result of a sanction. That’s about a fifth of the 213 who had been sanctioned, and that’s where the figure comes from.

Since the survey invited responses from people using homelessness services, it’s likely that a smaller proportion of all people who are sanctioned then become homeless.

But the report suggests a link.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of Prime Minister's Questions. Read the roundup.

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