Look at the huge rise in the number of people receiving 3 days Emergency food from just one supplier of food banks. Is this because many more families suddenly got greedy? Of course not. One reason is because increasing numbers of working families have been hit by the Bedroom Tax and the extra Council Tax. The other reason is because the rise in the number of sanctions applied by the Department of Works and Pensions which in its infinite wisdom assumes that starving people will force them into taking a job that is either not there or does not produce enough working hours to survive on.
It is not just unemployed claimants (JSA) who face sanctions , but increasingly sick and disabled people (ESA) and single parents with children over the age of five. Sanctions can totally remove benefits from people for between four weeks to three years leaving them absolutely destitute
Some ESA claimants (sick and disabled) have been declared unfit for work by ATOS. Subsequently they were sanctioned by the DWP for failing to do workfare. Workfare is where people have to work for nothing – but these people have been declared unfit for work by ATOS – a body not known for its leniency.
Appeals can be made within four weeks of receiving the withdrawal of Benefit letter. But often claimants did not even receive the letter let alone know that they could appeal. Appeals that are made have a high rate of success.
Consequences of sanctions can be severe. It frequently leads to family break-ups, it creates physical and mental illnesses both on claimant and family especially on the children. It can create malnutrition, homelessness and sometimes even attempted suicide.
Will any of these consequences make it more likely that claimants will be able to find employment? Even the most ardent supporter of cut throat capitalism must, if they have any humanity at all, accept that to consciously reduce people to begging, sleeping in the streets or attempting suicide is a cruel and degrading punishment.
Many of the Sanctions have been made in an arbitrary and unfair way and for the most trivial of reasons and often are due to inefficiencies in the Job Centres. If you can download this report “Punishing Poverty” by the Child Poverty Action Group – there are plenty of examples there.
And if you feel strongly please sign this 38 Degree petition to the government. 10,000 had sign by yesterday – we need 100,000.