Tricking vulnerable people out of benefits

By Savi Hensman
April 2, 2011

Disturbing evidence is emerging that UK job centres are increasingly looking for excuses to stop welfare benefits to people who are out of work. People with mental health problems, learning or communication difficulties, those who are young or uneducated are among those at most risk.

An article in the Guardian reports on the growing number of jobseekers left without enough money to live on, and includes an interview with a whistleblower who describes being set targets for referring people for sanctions referred for sanctions for supposedly not doing enough to find work.

In the words of this job centre adviser, “You're looking for ways to trick your customers into 'not looking for work'. You come up with many ways. I've seen dyslexic customers given written job searches, and when they don't produce them – what a surprise – they're sanctioned. The only target that anyone seems to care about is stopping people's money.”

Meanwhile, as the BBC’s business editor, Robert Peston, has reported, huge corporations are enjoying lavish tax cuts.

The impact on those targeted for welfare benefit sanctions can be devastating. However, those not yet affected may not be fully aware of what is being done to their neighbours, and those who are may be too caught up in the struggle to survive to protest loudly, or may fear further stigma.

Faith communities and other people of goodwill can play a part in sharing knowledge of what is taking place, and taking action to defend the needy and uphold justice.


(c) Savi Hensman is a Christian social commentator who works in the care sector. She is an Ekklesia associate.

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