Stop Benefit Sanctions Now!

“Absolute poverty, as in having no money at all, is all-encompassing, meaning it is almost impossible to think about anything else and it impacts on every area of life. Relationships with family and friends fracture, self-esteem is demolished, emotions range from stark terror to utter despair. Poverty removes the freedom to act rationally and assess situations in the long term and so creates its own vicious trap.

Such is the psychological anguish of long term poverty that some people will spend money on drugs or alcohol rather than food just to block out a few hours of their life. Poverty therefore leads to more poverty, ill health and increasing isolation. Poverty leads to family breakdown, which leads to homelessness, to addiction, depression, self-harm, poor health, mental illness and so on until the individual is shattered beyond repair.”

Continue reading:
The above is also included in the petition below. I included the first two paragraphs here as they so well describe what it is like to live in a state of such deprivation and despair. It has to stop now!

If you read nothing else please sign the 38 degrees petition demanding that

According to research by the CAB Citizens Advice Bureau, benefit sanctions, penalising benefit claimants who are not considered to be doing enough to find work, is leaving people without any money to live on. Sanctions affect both those on Job Seeker’s allowance and sick and disabled people who are claiming ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) who have been placed in the WRAG group (Work Related Activity Group).  ESA claimants can have 70% of their benefits stopped indefinitely. In December 2012 ESA claiments santions were rasied to 70% of their ESA payments

There are often very sick and disabled people in WRAG  and many people are unfairly assigned to this group who should in any case be in the support group. Frankly the whole assessment system is flawed and needs scrapping.

Some of the reasons for sanctions are ridiculous to the extreme and grossly unfair, such as missing an appointment with your advisor. This happened to one person who had worked for 20 years who missed an appointment with his advisor because the process had not been clearly explained. This resulted in a three-week sanction. Another sanction was imposed on someone for being late for an appointment with his adviser – arriving only  five minutes late resulted in a penalty of one month sanctions. A person who had applied for more jobs than the target they had been set was sanctioned because they forgot to put down that they had checked the local paper as per instructions!!!!!! and to beggar belief someone was sanctioned for not looking to see if anyone had advertised a new job on Christmas Day.

Read more

You can read a more detailed case of the effects of sanctions at the conclusion of this entry

From a survey of 376 people across the UK it was found that two thirds where left with no income after their benefits had been withdrawn. The duration of the sanction varies, the majority of people have had their benefit payment withdrawn for four weeks but about a third had to manage without any money for ten weeks or more and in some cases sanctions may last for up to three years! Such deprivation has forced people to borrow from family members many of whom may well be struggling themselves. Others borrow from banks and some may be so desperate as to borrow from what amounts to loan sharks, though they are usually referred to as  payday lenders, who charge outrageous rates of interest.

“The average payday lender charges £25 interest for every £100 borrowed if you pay it back within 28 days. That’s an APR of 1,737% (which shows the rate of interest you’d pay over a year and may include other charges). As a comparison, the average credit card would charge you £1.50 at an APR of 18%”

( My personal advice is never take out a payday loan. I see no reason under any circumstances that doing so has any benefit , most particularly if you are on a low-income and are likely to be so for the forseeable future. These lenders should be banned as clearly they are taking advantage of vulnerable people who are victims of a grave social injustice.)

Advice about payday loans from the CAB;

Between 2009 and 2011 the number of sanctions rose from 139,000 to 508,0005. The CAB accuses the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of setting targets for sanction withdrawals.

It needs to be pointed out that even a short sanction can be disastrous if you have no savings as is likely of course if you have to live on the grossly inadequate benefit of about of £71.70 (£56.80 if you are between 16 and 24)  which is the payment for Jobseekers Allowance. Now I have to ask does a twenty-three year old need less to live on than a twenty-five year old? Of course not.

The situation is so bad that for the first time since WW2 the Red Cross has launched an emergency food aid plan for UK’s poor :

Benefit Sanctions leading to poverty and debt may result in destitution and homelessness

Benefits sanctions contribute of course to homelessness.

According to a recent survey “31% per cent of homeless people claiming jobseeker’s allowance had been the subject of sanctions compared with a national average of just 3%”.

“Of our survey respondents, one-third reported that clients with mental health problems were sanctioned and nearly half of them reported that clients with substance misuse issues were also penalised”.

Read More:
More benefit sanctions means more suffering for those who live on the edge.
Homeless people and people with mental health problems will be victims of further cuts. There’s no safety net for the vulnerable

See also:

There are people living in caves round Stockport which has seen a 42 percent increase in homelessness in just one year.

Homeless men and women are living in a network of disused sandstone caves near the town centre of Stockport, Greater Manchester. There have been up to four people a night sleeping rough in the cave system perched on a 20-foot precipice overhanging a river, only a short distance from public view.

It is just appalling when people have to resort to living in caves. Sanctions on benefits will see more and more people added to the increasing number of people who are homeless.

I signed the petition because I am outraged at the vicious and unfair welfare reforms that have plunged people into poverty and despair causing many to commit suicide. when you are only getting £71 per week job seekers allowance you are already struggling in the extreme and are of course not able to put anything aside to cover any unexpected eventuality such as benefit sanctions. It is disgusting that in the sixth richest country in the world there are people who through no fault of their own cannot afford to eat or warm their homes or pay their rent. There are people so poor that they have to return food donated to them by food banks because they cannot afford the gas or electricity to heat their donated food! This is a grave social injustice and it must be challenged.
Without any exception whatsoever benefits sanctions must be stopped.
This is a crime against humanity, the most appalling treatment of vulnerable people and it has to stop now!

More information
If you do not know what these sanctions are, and many people are so ill-informed about what is happening here in the UK as a result of media bias, please check out the links below.
Read more information from the Void relating to this great social injustice:

Also please sign the WOW Petition:

The whole process is insane to say the least . With 2,500,000 unemployed people and only 400,000 jobs available the whole process is futile or at least extremely difficult and there will always be people who cannot get a job and all the bullying, terrorising and exploitation will not change that fact. All that happens is people lives are seriously blighted to such a degree their ability to work, if ever there is a job for them to do, is significantly decreased as hopelessness and depression set in.

Jobs need to be created not punishment dished out to those who cannot find what is not there. Remember it was the Tories who destroyed industry not the workers. In the 1960s you could walk out of your job one day and get another job the next! For most workers you did not need a degree to earn a living wage. Furthermore working conditions and pay where better, hours shorter and more rights in the workplace. it also has to be noted that not everyone can actually do the jobs that are available. So many jobs require skills many people do not have. Not everyone is academic or skilled in IT, yet there are so few jobs now for people who are not.

For example you now need a diploma to be a brick layer whereas before you would learn this skill on the job.


A detailed case history of someone who has been sanctioned

Just noticed this in the comments section from independent article: Exclusive: Red Cross launches emergency food aid plan for UK’s hungry

Here’s an actual case I read about which is worth repeating.

“From personal experience trying to support my friend who is currently sanctioned… what do you do with no income for 13 weeks?

You go to the food bank – three times, three days food each time is all you are allowed.

Social services tell you that as you are working age and single, you are not a priority to help, so there is no help for you from them.

You sell your possessions on Ebay until you have nothing left to sell.

You dont tell anyone what is happening to you because you feel so utterly ashamed.

When the shame reaches its height, you go hungry in a freezing cold flat, become ill and try suicide. Bonus!! The NHS feed you for a few days but then you are sent home again.

So you start stealing from the supermarket and get caught, so the police feed you for a day while you’re locked up.

You go ‘skipping’ – breaking onto places where food is thrown out, or ask shops and cafes for the food that is going to be thrown out at the end of the day.

You hang about at the end of the market and take the waste fruit and veg out of the bins.

There’s no money for the gas meter for heat or hot water, your friends are paying meter money onto the electric meter for you and you live in the living room of your flat with an electric heater on. You walk for 45 minutes each way to sit in the nearest library for the day because its warmer in there than at home, and gives you access to waste food at the end of the trading day.

The loan sharks knock daily on your door, offering you money you dare not take, but feel is inevitable that you will very soon because its your last option and you’re at the end of your tether.

By now your physical and mental health are shot, and the likelihood of getting back into work is further away than ever, but the DWP have saved 13 weeks benefit, yippee!! But you also used up huge amount of police and NHS costs – booo!!

That’s what someone is currently doing… seriously… three doors away from where I’m sat typing this.”


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