Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Benefits Sanctions: Media Sheep


The Scottish media is filled with reports that Scots had their benefits sanctioned almost 900,000 times last year.

See the Herald, STV, Evening Express, Sunday Post.  All the articles are based upon a report issued by Citizens Advice Scotland.

These articles are wrong!

The Daily Record, surprisingly but pleasingly, has reported accurately that the 900,000 refers to the UK as a whole and not to Scotland only.

Wings over Scotland reports the 900,000 figure as being across Scotland but with some hesitation about its accuracy stating that, if true, then each of Scotland’s 178,000 unemployed would have been sanctioned 5 times within the year.


Before any think that I support sanctions as an effective remedy and that 900,000 sanctions across the UK is acceptable.  No!   It is abhorrent.  At a food bank I see those sanctioned; no money, no food, no energy to cook even if there was food.  Sanctions should have no place in our society.


I raise the media’s error because it seems to be symptomatic of an industry which relies on being spoon-fed.

Does no-one question any more?  Does the media simply pick up one report – unfortunately it seems as though the Press association may have started the ball rolling – and reproduce it?

Debunking was easy.

I read the CAB report and its Executive Summary states,

During 2013, nearly 900,000 sanctions were applied to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants. The rate of JSA sanctions has more than doubled since 2010.

This has resulted in a significant rise in the number of sanctions cases coming in to bureaux in Scotland.

This makes no connection between Scotland and the 900,000 figure.

A Google search showed the Guardian in February reporting the figure as being UK-wide as did this site for the unemployed.


Clearly the story is wrong but it is still running.


Was this beyond Scotland’s media?  Apparently so, well most of them any way.


  1. I have 35000 Scots sanctioned:


  2. Your clock has hit zero hour.

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