Union says far from helping people back into work, sanctions undermine physical and mental health

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Community, Unite,

Unite benefit sanctionsUnite members up and down the country are today demonstrating against benefit sanctions.

Punitive sanctions have resulted in over two million people having their welfare payments cut or stopped without warning over the past two years, leading to increased poverty, misery and even death.

In London the total number of sanctions dealt out by the DWP from October 2012 to September 2013 was 130,442 and 103,679 between October 2013 and September 2014.

Gill Thompson, whose brother, David Clapson, died after being sanctioned will be handing in her 211,822-name petition at the DWP, calling on the prime minister to investigate the widespread use of benefit sanctions.

Mr Clapson, a vulnerable diabetic ex-soldier, died starving and destitute in 2013 because he was penalised by his job centre for missing a meeting.

His sister is demanding answers, saying: “Benefit sanctions are completely out of control. I want to know how ministers who state everything is done to support the vulnerable can justify their actions leaving people destitute, driving them to food banks, and leading to starvation and death. Do we want to live in a society where the vulnerable are victimised? I certainly do not.”

As things stand money can be cut for arriving late at a job centre, missing an appointment to go to a funeral, or even failing to apply for a job – while waiting to start a new job.

Unite Community national organiser Liane Groves said: “This government is attacking the unemployed for unemployment and treating claimants worse than criminals fined in the courts. Decisions on guilt are made in secret with the claimant not even allowed to be present to explain their case.

“Far from helping people back into work, sanctions undermine physical and mental health. They cause hardship, damage relationships, create homelessness and drive people to food banks, payday lenders, and to crime.

“There is no justification for this grotesque cruelty by the government. Unite is calling on the DWP to end benefit sanctions as this situation can’t be allowed to go on in the 6th richest country in the world.”

Unite community members will be taking part in protests across London before moving to the Department of Work and Pensions, Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW1H 9DA for a demonstration from 15:00 to 17:00. Find your local protest here.

 


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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