Benefit sanctions are “like domestic abuse”

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​Woman tells a poverty investigation sanctions were humiliating and degrading 

18th March 2015 by Robert Armour 1 Comment

An influential poverty committee has been told that being sanctioned was like being subjected to domestic violence.

A Paisley woman in her 40s, who has since found work, told a panel looking into poverty in Renfrewshire: "I went through domestic violence and it's the exact same feeling you get.

“You've got to act a certain way - say 'oh I'm really sorry I was late... you're right... I'll never do it again'. You leave there feeling rotten. You can't be assertive because they've got your money and you need it to live on."

The unnamed woman features in a report by the Tackling Poverty Commission, set up by Renfrewshire Council in April last year.

She lost her benefit payment of £120 a fortnight for six weeks after arriving a few minutes late for an appointment in 2012.

The woman said: "When you go to the Jobcentre, they make you feel like they're giving money out of their own pocket. And if you've not looked enough for jobs that week, or if you're late, they tell you 'we can stop your money'.

They (JobcentrePlus staff) make you feel like they're giving money out of their own pocket

"They spoke about me as if I wasn't there, saying "has she been late before?" and said it had to go to a decision-maker.

"Even though it's £120 a fortnight, they've got control over your life.”

A list of 24 recommendations has now been issued by the commission and is asking the UK government to "re-think" benefit sanctions.

It wants to see the number of workers paid less than the living wage halved and the provision of nurseries offering flexible childcare that are used by low-income families.

Councillors will meet on 23 March to discuss the report's findings and consider future action.

Chairman Mike Holmes said: "We have the third busiest foodbank in the country and enough is enough. We cannot leave behind another generation because of the inequalities poverty brings.

"Child poverty across the country is predicted to rise, and we want to buck that trend in Renfrewshire. The council brought together experts and front-line workers to form the commission - to be a critical friend to the council, its partners and to the wider public sector.

"Research makes a clear link between sanctions and foodbanks, so when you reach the point that children go hungry because a so-called work incentive removes their parent's only income - something has gone very wrong.

Jim McCormick, Scotland adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), who was on the Commission, said: "More households need to have access not just to work - but to work that provides an acceptable standard of living and opportunities for progression.

"Too many people are at the mercy of low pay and insecure contracts. We need more people to be paid the living wage, wider access to in-work training and quality childcare that helps parents into work.

“While Renfrewshire is no different in facing tough financial decisions, it's leading the way in its approach."

The UK government said it only uses sanctions “as a last resort.”

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27th February 2017 by Mr Maxwell Benjamin

A complete Abolition of the departement of work and pension And the Heath departement and the departement of Education. Must be Abolished And Form One body controlled by his Royal Highness prince Charles. Or we will end up with DESTRUCTION.