THE number of sanctions handed out to universal credit has increased by almost 1000% in the last year.

The Glasgow Times looked at statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) relating to the number of sanctions people claiming the benefit had been handed since 2019.

In November 2021, 1215 people in the Glasgow area had sanctions applied to their universal credit awards. This was compared to just 107 at the beginning of 2021 which shows an eyewatering 1000% increase.

We have also broken down the number of sanctions applied per individual job centre showing that areas such as Shettleston and Springburn had the highest number of claimants who had been sanctioned.

However, there are fewer people claiming universal credit now than there were in early 2021.

Earlier this year, the UK Government brought in tougher rules which mean claimants will be subject to sanctions after the first four weeks of claiming universal credit.

Now, charities fear that sanctions will increase hardship among city residents.

Sanctions are applied to claimants if they do not follow certain agreements to look for work included in a claimant commitment set with the Department for Work and Pensions as a condition for receiving the payment.

READ MORE: Beat the squeeze: Can a local Glasgow Citizens Advice Bureau help you?

But some argue these are overly punitive and will leave struggling families without vital income in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis ever.

Citizen's Advice Scotland said that there is already evidence showing that the level of universal credit is not enough to cover living costs. and that reducing payments would create "more problems."

READ MORE: Spiralling costs mean living on universal credit in Glasgow is 'impossible'

David Scott, head of policy for the charity, said:"While sanctions were rightly paused at the start of the pandemic, numbers have been increasing rapidly in recent months.

"Sanctions advice across the Citizens Advice network in Scotland has shown a 20 per cent increase from March to December 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and the DWP’s own figures show that the number of people searching for work who were sanctioned increased almost five times over in August 2021 compared to June 2021.

"Imposing new measures that tighten the work search conditions will only make these figures worse.”

Dr David Webster at Glasgow University says that the sanctions are overwhelmingly down to missed appointments. The DWP has not released updated figures for this due to technical issues, but Dr Webster advised the pattern began last year. He said: “The rapid increase in sanctions in June and July 2021 was due to missed interviews and it is likely that this has continued.

“Another factor in play might be the general reduction in public transport timetables following the pandemic. This will have made it harder for claimants to get to their interviews.

“Use of sanctions in this way has been widely criticised, mainly on the grounds that by focusing on unemployed people, it will not address the bigger problem of those who have withdrawn from the labour force; it will produce worse matches between people and jobs, damaging earnings, morale and productivity; and the sanctions will produce the usual collateral damage.”