Harsh benefit sanctions 'undermine vital safety net'

By staff writers
February 23, 2014

A leading trade unionist has agreed with church leaders that harsh benefit sanctions undermine a vital safety net for vulnerable people.

Responding to government figures that reveal Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants have had their benefits suspended more than 800,000 times because they were deemed to have failed to do enough to find work or turned down job offers, Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Frances O’Grady called for change to the system and the way it works.

“Church leaders are only the latest to say that the harsh benefits sanctions regime is causing hardship and destitution," she declared.

"The number of sanctions has grown sharply amid allegations of pressure on job centre staff to penalise more claimants.

“Of course the unemployed should seek work, but when people are being sanctioned for going to family funerals rather than seeking work and those without IT skills are being penalised for not applying online we are not catching cheats but undermining a vital safety net that any of us might need one day.”

The TUC is organising 'Fair Pay Fortnight' from Monday 24 March to Sunday 6 April. It will be a series of events across England and Wales to raise awareness about falling living standards.

* More information here: www.fairpayfortnight.org


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