In response to today's report from the Public Accounts Committee on benefit sanctions, ERSA's chief executive Kirsty McHugh said:

"Today's report once again underlines that the conditionality and sanction regime needs fundamental reform. Sanctions should only ever be a last resort, and should never be used for anyone vulnerable.

"There is a strong evidence base that employment support  works best when there is a relationship of trust between work coach and jobseeker. Currently, the negativity associated with sanctions has led to too many jobseekers disengaging with JCP and falling out the system altogether.

"With the rollout of Universal Credit and a reduction in resources for specialist employment support, a further 1.3 million jobseekers will come under the conditionality and sanction regime. This added pressure will only increase poor sanction decisions. Urgent change is needed."