The War on Welfare Sanctions

by Jasmine Alice Edgley

2 and a quarter million of sanction referrals that have been recorded should be cause for serious concern as to the vigour at which they are being applied.

Gill Thompson’s brother was a former British serviceman, and he died after having sanctions applied. She explains: “It’s obvious to everyone except the DWP that there is a link between someone being sanctioned – and therefore having no money – and hunger. It is shameful for the government to keep denying it.

“My David died hungry after being sanctioned for missing a single meeting. He died with no food in his stomach and only a tin of pilchards in his cupboard.
“He was diabetic, and without the £71.70 a week from his jobseeker’s allowance he couldn’t afford to eat or put credit on his electricity card. That meant he couldn’t keep the fridge where he kept his insulin working.
“There are families going hungry right now because of benefit sanctions. It’s time to admit this cruel policy is causing hunger and costing lives.”

Here are just some of the concerning reasons for sanctions:
You retire on the grounds of ill health and claim ESA. You go to your assessment and during the assessment you have a heart attack, so the nurse says they have to stop the assessment. You get sanctioned for not withdrawing from your assessment (Source: Debbie Abrahams MP)
It’s Christmas Day. You don’t do any job search, because it’s Christmas Day. So you get sanctioned. For not looking to see if anyone has advertised a new job on Christmas Day. (Source: Poverty Alliance)
You get a job, isn’t that great? The job doesn’t start for two weeks, so you don’t look for work in those two weeks, and get sanctioned for it. (Source: The Guardian )
You attend a work programme interview so you miss your jobcentre appointment and get sanctioned (Source: CAB )

All of these are reasons for sanctions which have been used to stop the benefits of someone who did not deserve it.
We hear about events such as these every week from clients who attend our drop-in support service.

So what can you do?

Here at Freedom we try our best to recover benefits and appeal against sanctions for clients. In July 2015 of the 20,524 sanctions that were applied, 7,998 were cancelled. However, the way sanctions are applied still needs to change. Sign this petition to show your support.


About the Author

Jasmine Alice Edgley

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