Working Paper: Is there a consistent pattern in benefit sanctions rates by Jobcentre Plus offices in Scotland?
Within the debate on labour market activation policies and the public discussion on unemployment benefit sanctions and their effectiveness in raising transition rates back to employment, increasing attention has been paid on the role of caseworkers in employment offices. Caseworkers’ behavioural decisions may be influenced by a combination of factors, such as available resources, personal characteristics and attitudes, which may lead to different sanction outcomes for unemployed people. This working paper aims to identify whether there are consistent patterns in benefit sanctions rates across local employment offices (i.e. Jobcentre Plus offices) in Scotland. I used data from official UK government statistics covering monthly counts of unemployment benefit claimants and adverse sanctions for 93 Jobcentre Plus offices, for the period between April 2004 and September 2015. In this working paper, I provide a descriptive account of Job Seeker’s Allowance (JSA) sanction rates and contrast trends before and after October 2012, the month which marked the introduction of a new JSA sanctioning regime, characterised by more severe and lengthened sanctions.